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Moscow says Obama’s visit to Cuba to culminate restoration of US-Cuban relations

March 24, 2016, 16:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The lifting of the trade, economic and financial blockade of Cuba, including the unilateral US sanctions, is the prime objective, the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says

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US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro

US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro

© AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

MOSCOW, March 24 /TASS/. A visit by US President Barack Obama to Cuba will culminate the normalization of US- Cuban relations, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"It will be a noticeable event in international life, the first in the history of the two countries over the past 88 years," the Russian diplomat went on to say. "Hopefully, it’s going to culminate the process of the ongoing normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States," Zakharova added.

"The Russian side welcomed the establishment of the American-Cuban dialogue straight from start. We believe that the need to start the two processes has ripened long ago. This is our clear and definite conviction. We have been following this path for a long time - not only in words but also in practical deeds," Zakharova said.

"This process should certainly contribute to correcting Washington’s historical mistake. Naturally, it [the process] objectively reflects the changing realities," the diplomat went on to say.

"Our position of principle consists in the fact that this process should be equal and should certainly proceed on the basis of mutual respect without imposing any models of political and socio-economic development and certainly without patting somebody’s shoulder," Zakharova stressed.

"The lifting of the trade, economic and financial blockade of Cuba, including the unilateral US sanctions, is the prime objective. It is odious that the United States is preserving the Guantanamo military base, which in fact has been turned into an illegal prison," the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman added.

She noted that the improving US-Cuban relations were unlikely to have any impact on Russia’s cooperation with Cuba.

"The Russian-Cuban relations have the necessary potential for further expansion in a wide range of directions. The directions, which are going to be developed, are of mutual interest. We continue to be determined to consolidate them in the spirit of strategic partnership," Zakharova stressed.

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