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N. Korea, Russia declare 2015 as friendship year: KCNA

North Korea and Russia will mark 2015 as a year of friendship and step up bilateral exchanges in political, economic and cultural sectors, the North's official news agency said Wednesday.

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation decided to make 2015, in which falls the 70th anniversaries of Korea's liberation and the victory in the great Patriotic War in Russia, as a year of friendship between the two countries," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a brief dispatch.

The countries will "develop the bilateral relations onto a new higher stage in various fields, including politics, economy and culture under a mutual agreement," the KCNA said.

The two countries will also invigorate exchanges of delegations and contacts between their national institutions and regions, the report said, adding that joint cultural events will take place in Pyongyang and Moscow as well as other cities.

The designation came as the two countries are scurrying to tighten bilateral ties amid languid North-China relations.

Choe Ryong-hae, a governing party secretary, visited Russia in November as a special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as part of efforts to improve relations.

In May, the North Korean leader is expected to attend a Russian ceremony in Moscow marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. It would be the reclusive leader's first foreign visit since taking power in December 2011. (Yonhap)

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