Cuban FM Says Visit to Former Soviet Space Positive

Minister Felipe Perez Roque returned to Havana after meeting Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Belarus leaderships.
In a statement to the News Agency Prensa Latina, the Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said his visit to four former Soviet Republics (Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Belarus) was "very positive". "We raised the level of our relations in the visits to the four mentioned nations, and we hope to extend bilateral exchange with them", said Perez Roque to the Cuban Agency in Havana.

According to Perez Roque, economic ties between Cuba and the former Soviet nations have been "embryonic", but there is a political willingness to regain the levels of another epoch. The Cuban Foreign Minister also exchanged ideas about the war in Iraq and the US unilateral blockade to the island.

In these nations, Perez Roque met with the top leadership and signed joint agreements on legal cooperation and exemptions for double-taxes, as well as an agreement for trade cooperation. However, the head of the Cuban diplomacy found time for cultural activities.

In Ukraine, Perez Roque laid a wreath at the Mijailovskaya Square monument to the victims of the 1932-33 Ukraine famine, before meeting President Leonid Kuchma. In Kiev, the local community gratefully received the Cuban delegation; the Caribbean country gave sanitary assistance to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine during the Chernobyl tragedy in 1986.

During preparations to welcome the Cuban official, the Upper House official daily "Golas Ukraini" published an interview with Cuban Ambassador to the Ukraine Jose Peraza Chapeau, says Prensa Latina. In the article headlined, "We preserve independence as the apple of our eye," the Caribbean diplomat highlights that 18,000 children affected by the Chernobyl catastrophe, treated in Cuba, "are better ambassadors than I am."

After the meeting with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Perez Roque traveled to the city of Brest where he visited historic places as the Brest fortress complex built during WWII.

The Cuban Foreign Minister had visited Moscow on March 25th. In a joint statement with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, both officials agreed Cuba was still an important Russian partner in Latin America and urged the international community for multilateral approach to world events.

During the trip, Perez Roque pledged for cooperation of the international community to protect the interests of five Cuban citizens imprisoned in the USA. Perez Roque said that the treatment of the five Cuban citizens is a flagrant violation of human rights, especially since they had been gathering information about terrorist groups.

The Five (as they are known internationally) were submitted to trial in Miami (Florida), which made it impossible to defend their fight against terrorism nor could their lawyers count on a fair trial, he emphasized. Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Rene and Fernando Gonzalez were jailed in 1998, accused of endangering US national security, when they were only compiling data about terrorist groups, Cuba says.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru

Photo: Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

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