The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has become the fifth country to recognize Abkhazia's independence, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Maxim Gvindzhiya announced. "We exchanged notes on diplomatic relations and signed an agreement," Gvindzhiya said. However, three days later, Donald Kalpokas, Vanuatu’s permanent representative to the United Nations stated Vanuatu has not in fact recognized Abkhazia. “I have asked my capital whether this is true, and they denied it emphatically,” Mr. Kalpokas said. “We don’t know who is responsible for declaring that this is true. As far as we are concerned, we are dealing with Georgia, not Abkhazia.” He added, “It is defamation for our country. This is disrespect.” Georgia’s Foreign Ministry Deputy Head Nino Kalandadze commented, “According to the information we have from Vanuatu and other UN countries, the reports that Vanuatu intends to recognize Abkhazia are not confirmed on any stage.” Meanwhile, Georgian media accuses Russia of paying Vanuatu $23 mln for the recognition. “No one paid anyone anything!” Abkhaz Foreign Minister Maxim Gvindzhiya responded. Russia recognized Abkhazia and another breakaway Georgian province, South Ossetia, in 2008, in the wake of a five-day Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia. Later, the two states' independence was recognized by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.