Russia says it’ll rebuild ties with old ally Cuba (Lead)

November 12th, 2008 - 8:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaMoscow, Nov 12 (IANS) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said Cuba is one of Russia’s “key partners” in Latin America, while announcing a renewal of economic ties and the visit to Moscow next year of Cuban leader Raul Castro, EFE reported Wednesday.”Cuba has been and is one of our key partners in Latin America,” Medvedev said after receiving Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

Medvedev announced Russia’s intention to increase its political and trade relations with Cuba, a country almost forgotten by the Kremlin in the decade after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Perez Roque, in Russia since last Saturday on an official visit, gave Medvedev an invitation from Raul Castro to visit the communist-ruled island.

The Russian president, who said that Moscow and Havana cooperate actively in the bilateral and international political spheres, stressed the need to give more attention to developing economic ties.

“We have gone past the pause that occurred in our relations during the past decade (the 1990s). Today our contacts are meaningful and friendly,” he said.

The loss of subsidies from Moscow and of trade with Warsaw Pact countries sent Cuba’s economy into a slump from which it began to emerge only recently.

“Next year we’ll be waiting for Raul Castro in our country,” Medvedev said, adding that the Cuban president’s visit will be “one more contribution” to developing strong ties.

He also asked Perez Roque to give his greetings and wishes for good health to Fidel Castro, who formally stepped down early this year in favour of younger brother Raul.

Before being received by Medvedev, the Cuban foreign minister had talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, who expressed his hopes that the new administration in the United States might revise its stance towards Cuba and lift the 46-year-old economic embargo.

“I have heard that the president-elect (Barack Obama) mentioned relations with Cuba among the matters his administration will study,” Lavrov said after his meeting with Perez Roque.

The Cuban minister met Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who during his 2000-2008 tenure as president advocated re-establishment Russia’s international position and its role as a world power.

Cuba, however has ruled out housing on its soil elements of Russia’s anti-missile system, similar to the one the US plans to station in Poland and the Czech Republic, Perez Roque told reporters after his talks with Putin.

The foreign minister invited Russian companies to invest in Cuba, and in particular to take part in the exploration and exploitation of oil both onshore and in Havana’s portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

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