HAVANA, November 17. /TASS/. Moscow and Havana plan to fulfill a large-scale project on rebuilding Cuban railways, which is expected to boost the republic’s transport infrastructure, Russian Federation Council (upper house) Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said after a meeting with the country’s leadership.
"We discussed in detail various [joint] projects with Vice President [of the Council of Ministers] and the co-chair of the intergovernmental commission [Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz]. For example, a project on rebuilding Cuba’s railways. This is a very big, large-scale and promising project, which will certainly bring vital changes to Cuba’s transport infrastructure. Train cars will be replaced, which will have a higher speed," Matviyenko told reporters.
Russia and Cuba have signed a respective intergovernmental agreement, which has not yet been ratified by Cuba, she noted.
The Vice President of the Council of Ministers said the deal had been submitted for ratification, vowing to make sure that the state procedures are implemented as soon as possible. Active talks are underway now between Russian Railways and Cuba’s railways on the project, and an agreement on its financing has been reached, Matviyenko said.
Russia is providing great support for Cuba in fuel and energy sector and in fulfilling Cuba’s program on ensuring its energy security. "Our interest in developing mutually beneficial relations with Cuba is confirmed by Russia’s determination to adopt a long-term plan for developing inter-state relations up to 2030, taking into account Cuba’s plan for economic and social development up to 2030. This understanding and mutual interest is a guarantee for implementing these large-scale projects," Matviyenko noted.
Last year, bilateral trade grew more than 30%, the upper house speaker said. "We plan to cultivate cooperation in new areas, not only in energy, but also in industry, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies and many other modern areas. We are leaving now with an absolute understanding that the Cuban leadership is determined to develop and expand cooperation with our country," Matviyenko stated.
The upper house speaker has also described the talks with Cuba’s political leadership as very substantive. "We have heard so many words of gratitude for Russia and our president for continued solidarity, support and assistance for Cuba and the words of gratitude for all those gifts that Russia has made on occasion of the Cuban capital’s anniversary, both from the leadership and ordinary citizens," she noted.
The delegation of the Russian Federation Council chaired by Speaker Valentina Matviyenko arrived in Cuba for an official visit on November 15. The delegation is comprised of Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Andrei Klishas, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev, Head of the Defense and Security Committee Viktor Bondarev, First Deputy Chairman of the Economic Policy Committee Sergei Kalashnikov and a member of the Science, Education and Culture Committee, Natalia Kosikhina.
The previous official visit by the Federation Council’s delegation led by its speaker took place in May 2013. In November 2018, Moscow hosted a meeting between Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko and Miguel Diaz-Canel, the then President of Cuba’s Council of State and the Council of Ministers, who has served as the country’s President since October 2019.