‘Cuba won’t house Russian missile defence system’

November 11th, 2008 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Nov 11 (IANS) Cuba has ruled out installing on its soil elements of a planned Russian missile defence system countering a US network that Washington proposes to deploy in Central Europe, EFE reported Tuesday.”We acknowledge the right of Russia to take response measures and to reply to the growing aggression of the United States and NATO, which are trying to encircle her,” visiting Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told a press conference in Moscow Monday.

When asked directly about the possible deployment of a Russian missile defence system in Cuba, he said: “The answer is no.”

The matter was not discussed during his meetings here with Russian officials, he said.

Perez Roque expressed his confidence that his country and Russia “are entering a process of maturity and the misunderstandings will be a thing of the past.”

After the collapse of the soviet Union in the 1990s, Moscow diverted its attention from Cuba.

“It is for both the parties to be in agreement that bilateral relations cannot be subject to the situation (at a given moment) and must be based on reciprocal interests,” the minister said referring to Russia’s post-Soviet Cuba policy.

The minister invited Russian firms to invest in Cuba, in particular to participate in the exploration and exploitation of petroleum both on the island and in Havana’s portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

He noted that currently oil firms from Spain, Canada, Norway, China, Vietnam and Brazil are participating in exploiting Cuba’s crude deposits, adding that US companies would also be welcome if they want to join.

“We hope that Russia will become an important investor in Cuba in the areas of energy and tourism, as well as in the mining industry. We hope that Russia will play a more important role in the Cuban economy,” the foreign minister said.

Perez Roque said he was carrying a letter from President Raul Castro which he would deliver to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

He said that the upcoming tour by the Russian president through Latin America is “a positive act that proves Russia’s interest in a region of enormous possibilities.”

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