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Vanuatu Denies Recognition Of Georgia Rebel Region

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has denied it has recognized the independence of the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, contradicting a statement made by an Abkhaz official earlier this week.

Donald Kalpokas, Vanuatu's ambassador to the United Nations, said "there was no declaration of Abkhazia's independence from Vanuatu."

On June 1, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Maksim Gvinjia said Vanuatu, a small archipelago of some 235,000 people east of Australia, had recognized his country's sovereignty.

Russia has lobbied its allies to follow its lead in recognizing Abkhazia and another Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, since waging a war with its former Soviet neighbour over the provinces in August 2008.

So far Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the tiny Pacific State of Nauru have established diplomatic ties with Abkhazia.