Cuba seeks multi-faceted ties with Russia

Cuba is seeking to expand its multi-faceted ties with the Russian Federation, the country's First Deputy Foreign Minister Fernando Ramirez, now on an official visit to the Russian capital, told RIA Novosti here today.

We hope that Cuban-Russian relations will receive a new impetus as a result of this visit and enter the phase of sustained development, the high-ranking Cuban diplomat stressed.

The sides agreed to swell the bilateral economic turnover, while discussing economic issues.

Plans are in place to increase mutual investment volumes. This concerns Russian investment into the Russian economy, as well as the so far modest Cuban investment into Russia's economy, Ramirez added, citing the tourist sector and additional Russian tourists on Cuba as an example. Moreover, he mentioned the power industry and the mining sector as promising co-operation avenues. Our economic relations, which boast a tremendous potential, can and must develop, he noted.

Both countries' foreign ministries have signed a co-operation agreement for 2004. This document formalises the coinciding Cuban and Russian approaches toward numerous international and bilateral issues.

Cuba established diplomatic relations with more than 50 foreign countries over the last decade. 115 national delegations, including 24 top-level ones, visited Cuba last year in spite of the US blockade. For its own part, the United States is trying to prevent any contacts between Cuba and the outside world, Ramirez stressed. We hail Russia's role and influence within the international community. We would also very much like Russia's co-operation with Cuba to occupy a befitting place in the diverse range of its foreign contacts, Ramirez noted.

Bilateral relations were abruptly scaled down after 1991. However, Cuba still boasts substantial traditions of friendship, and sympathy toward Russia. The people of Cuba are still deeply and sincerely interested in Russia's culture, history, the Russian language and its present-day achievements, Ramirez said. Tens of thousands of Cubans have warm memories of their work and studies in the Soviet Union. Members of the Cuban delegation met dozens of Russian citizens who have no less warm memories of their work and stay in Cuba. This is the main and most powerful potential of our developing relations. Ordinary Cubans will always perceive Russia as a friend, Ramirez stressed in conclusion.

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