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Strengthening of Russia-Cuba relations to be priority of Putin’s visit to Cuba

July 10, 2014, 14:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian president’s informal talk with 87-year-old Fidel Castro will open his visit

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© EPA/Alejandro Ernesto

MOSCOW, July 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Strengthening of trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Cuba will be in the focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cuba, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has said.

Putin's agenda for the visit to Cuba

Putin will arrive in Havana on Friday, July 11. He will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

Putin’s informal talk with 87-year-old Fidel Castro will open his visit. “Fidel Castro did not take any state or party posts. But he is leader of the Cuban Revolution and observes the development of the situation in the world,” Ushakov said adding that the conversation might be very interesting.

During the talks with Raul Castro, it is planned to touch upon a wide range of issues, including the implementation of agreements reached during previous visits, as well as to determine the priorities for further development of bilateral cooperation.

“Special emphasis will be laid on measures for stimulating trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation,” he said.

What is planned to be signed during the visit

Dozens of documents are expected to be signed after the talks. These are mainly memorandums on industrial and energy cooperation. The parties will also sign documents on interaction in healthcare and emergency response.

Russia and Cuba will conclude an agreement on supplies of Il-96-300 long-range aircraft to Cuba and a statement on no first deployment of weapons in outer space.

The Kremlin considers Cuba “one of Russia’s ancient partners in Latin America”. “Russian-Cuban relations rely on the solid base of years-long friendship and mutual respect,” Ushakov said.

Putin will visit Cuba “amid an unprecedented decision over writing off Cuba’s debt ($31.7 billion out of $35.2 billion)", he said, adding that the remaining 10% of the debt would be transferred to a special account, opened at the National Bank of Cuba. The funding will be used to finance social and economic investment projects in Cuba.

The intergovernmental agreement was signed October 25, 2013. Cuba ratified the agreement. Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) has ratified the document on Wednesday, July 9.

The joint commission for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation dealt with stepping up mutual trade. The Russian trade mission in Havana resume the work this year and it will facilitate direct contacts, Ushakov said.

Directions of cooperation

In 2013, the volume of trade between Russia and Cuba reached $185.1 million.

Both countries are implementing joint projects in the energy sector. Zarubezhneft successfully develops the Boca de Jaruco oil field. The company is planning to develop the oil field on the Cuban shelf jointly with Rosneft and Cuba’s Cupet (Cubapetroleo, the state oil company). INTER RAO, energy supplier to Cuba, seeks to take part in modernisation of two Cuban thermal power stations — Maximo Gomez and East Havana.

Russian companies show interest in industrial cooperation within Mariel’s Special Development Zone. Russia, Cuba and third countries are working on a project to attract investments in creating a hub that will include San Antonio de Los Banos’ international airport, the freight terminal and the seaport.

Moscow notes the development of cooperation in civil aviation. Cuba’s flying stock consists of Russian aircraft (40%). The country is planning to purchase the Il-96-300 and An-148 aircraft, as well as the Mi-171 helicopters.

The parties pay much attention to hi-tech cooperation, including in peaceful exploration of outer space. Russia and Cuba work hard to create the GLONASS ground infrastructural system in Cuba.

Russia and Cuba maintain traditional relations in the humanitarian field, as well as in healthcare and tourism.

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