Sunday, July 13, 2014

Putin hails Cuba's "strategic" importance for Russia

Putin hails Cuba's "strategic" importance for Russia
Published July 12, 2014 EFE

Cuba and Russia strengthened bilateral relations in the political and
economic spheres with the official visit to Havana of President Vladimir
Putin, who hailed the Caribbean nation's "strategic" importance in
Moscow's foreign policy.

Putin, whose 2000 journey to Havana opened a "second phase" in ties
between the two countries, chose Russia's oldest ally in Latin America
as the first stop on a regional tour that will also take him to
Argentina and Brazil.

The Russian president met Friday with Cuban counterpart Raul Castro and
his 87-year-old brother Fidel, the leader of the 1959 Cuban Revolution
who formally resigned the presidency in 2008 after being stricken with a
serious gastrointestinal illness.

Putin also presided over the signing of nearly a dozen agreements in a
range of sectors.

Based on photographs that were posted on the Web site Cubadebate and
which show Fidel in his now-customary track suit, the meeting with Putin
took place at the retired leader's Havana home.

The Russian president arrived Friday in Havana a week after Russia's
parliament voted to forgive 90 percent of the $31.7 billion in
outstanding debt Cuba had with the former Soviet Union, which collapsed
in 1991.

Putin signed the bill into law on Friday, saying the debt write-off
would create "new conditions" for developing bilateral relations.

Raul Castro, for his part, said the debt forgiveness was "yet another
sign" of the Russian people's "great generosity" toward Cuba, and he
also recalled that the Cuban Revolution would not have survived without
the aid of its Soviet patrons.

The Cuban president also said he was very satisfied with the current
phase in bilateral relations that began with Putin's first visit to the
island 14 years ago.

Castro and Putin also presided over the signing of a package of 10
agreements and memoranda to expand bilateral cooperation, including
accords on oil exploration signed by Russian state oil company Rosneft
and Cuban counterpart Cupet.

Putin later traveled Friday to Nicaragua for a previously unannounced
visit, meeting in that Central American country with President Daniel
Ortega. EFE

Source: Putin hails Cuba's "strategic" importance for Russia | Fox News
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