SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has formally recognized the independence of two pro-Russian separatist "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine, becoming the world's third nation to do so, according to the North's state media Thursday.
The North's Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui sent letters to her counterparts in the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic the previous day and recognized the entities, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. Russia and Syria have already backed their independence.
"In the letters, she informed them that the DPRK government decided to recognize the independence of the People's Republic of Donetsk and the People's Republic of Lugansk and expressed the will to develop the state-to-state relations with those countries in the idea of independence, peace and friendship," it said in an English-language article. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Earlier, Ukraine announced it severed diplomatic ties with North Korea over the move to recognize the separatist regions.
The North has recently stressed its close ties with Russia despite international condemnation of its invasion of Ukraine. Pyongyang has previously blamed the Ukraine crisis on the "hegemonic policy" of the United States and the West.
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