Russia North Korea ties
North Korea declares 2015 as Friendship Year with RussiaReuters

North Korea has declared 2015 as Friendship Year with Russia in order to boost relations between Pyongyang and Moscow.

An official announcement via the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has said the declaration is meant to strengthen political and economic ties between the two countries.

"During the year of friendship the two countries are to invigorate exchanges of delegations and contacts between national institutions and regions and hold joint cultural events in Pyongyang and Moscow and other cities of the two countries," the KCNA report said.

The two countries have embarked on several joint ventures in the past several months. Pyongyang and Moscow are also in close cooperation to organise a military drill, though the preparations are said to still be in the pipeline.

North Korea, clamped by severe economic sanctions over its contentious nuclear activities, has been desperately looking for avenues to set up partnerships. Similarly, Russia, which also faces international isolation over its role in the Ukraine crisis, has been pushed to look for new friends.

The KCNA went on to say that "numerous joint ventures" will be conducted this year, which also marks the 70th anniversary of World War II in May. There was speculation that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would attend the ceremony, making his first-ever foreign trip.

Pyongyang said both North Korea and Russia would "boost exchanges of delegations and contacts between different organisations, including regional ones" during 2015.

Several high-profile delegates from the country have already visited Russia in the past weeks to cement the relationship.