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Central America eyes Russia's expertise as partner in eight-nation group

January 27, 2014, 13:57 UTC+3 TEGUCIGALPA

Central American countries attach great importance to fostering ties with important partners, among them Russia

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TEGUCIGALPA, January 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Members of the Central American Integration System (SICA) say there are “wide prospects” for deeper ties with Russia and are keen to promote the process, the group's Secretary General, Hugo Martinez, told Russian Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov on Sunday.

“We attach great importance to the region’s integration and fostering its ties with other important partners, among them Russia,” Martinez, from El Salvador, said.

Assembling El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic, SICA supports the initiative to grant Russia observer status in the organization. A request from Moscow was expected soon and undoubtedly would be accepted, Martinez added.

Cooperation with Russia

Rapprochement with Russia is favored by the group's member nations, adhering to principles of a multi-polar world. “Our region’s states should not only develop relations with traditional partners on the continent but with other countries as well,” Martinez said, citing SICA interest in expanding cooperation in security, combating climate change and promoting trade.

The official said Russia’s proposal to open a training center for drugs unit police in Nicaragua was valued, saying this would benefit all Central American countries which could then use “Russian experience in fighting organized crime and drug trafficking.” He added that SICA was keen to see a SICA-Russia meeting at foreign minister level.

Drug problem

Russian drug agency chief Ivanov, visiting Honduras as head of his country's delegation to the forthcoming inauguration of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, pointed to prospects of cooperation with a Central America “that suffers from drug trafficking, though does not produce drugs itself”.

Cocaine production had recently declined substantially in Columbia but had increased in Peru and Bolivia, he said, so that smugglers preferred Central America as their trafficking territory. Ivanov said gangs were now extending supplies to European countries, which posed a threat to Russia and placed greater emphasis on drug control cooperation with Central America.

SICA was set up in 1991, founded initially by Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. Its original aim was economic cooperation but it is now involved in politics, education, culture and environmental protection.

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