MOSCOW, June 5. /TASS/. Latin American countries are interested in expanding and diversifying cooperation with Russia on a bilateral basis as well as within multilateral formats, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a session of the ministry’s Business Council on Friday.
The foreign minister said they should target cooperation on long-term projects in these spheres where Russia’s positions were traditionally strong.
He said his Latin American tour in March proved that regional countries were looking to develop ties with Russia, and said relations with Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador had reached or approached "strategic partnership" level.
"We are closely cooperating with Brazil also within the framework of the BRICS group of nations, which is gaining a foothold as an influential participant in the system of global management," the top diplomat added at the session that focused on cooperation with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
He also noted the strengthening of Russia’s political dialogue and cooperation with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
"Over the recent years, trade has stably remained at the level of some $16 billion-$17 billion," he said. Noting that raw materials and agricultural products traditionally persisted in this trade, he supposed the task was to make concrete steps towards changing the situation in trade with these countries.
"It is necessary to maximally use the factor of complementarity of our countries’ economies, establishing integrated, highly technological project and production chains, including on such high-demand directions as the power economy on a broad scale (oil and gas, hydropower and nuclear engineering), mechanic engineering, infrastructure and transport," he said.
The foreign minister also mentioned promising groundwork in the pharmaceutical sector and in information technologies.
He spoke in favour of direct contacts of the regions’ business circles, noting potentials offered by the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. "A Latin American section is scheduled within its framework this year," Lavrov added.