Medvedev ends LatAm tour meeting with Fidel Castro
AFP - 1 hour 17 minutes ago
HAVANA (AFP) - - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrapped up a strategic Latin American tour with a meeting with iconic former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who described the encounter as "very stimulating."
"They discussed various aspects of developing Russian-Cuban cooperation and questions of international politics," Medvedev spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told Russian media. "The meeting lasted more than an hour."
No pictures of the Friday meeting were distributed, as was the case when Castro met with Chinese president Hu Jintao on November 19.
But in an Internet article released later, Castro said his was left with a "high opinion" of the Russian leader.
"For me, it was a very stimulating meeting," the ailing Cuban leader said. "There is no subject that the Russian president avoids, no question that he leaves unanswered. He has deep knowledge of issues, knows how to persuade listeners, and even those who disagree with him, respect him."
Fidel Castro said the two sides had discussed relations with the United States, but did not go into details.
The meeting was the last public engagement of Medvedev's Latin American tour meant to forge stronger ties with neighbors of the United States. It marked the first visit to Cuba, a former Cold War ally, by a Russian president in eight years.
"Everything went very well," Medvedev told reporters at Varadero airport, 150 kilometers (94 miles) east of Havana, where he was seen off by Vice President Jose Ramon Machado.
"We're leaving very happy," he said after inviting Cuban President Raul Castro to visit Moscow.
"We're waiting in Russia for Raul Castro's visit ... we'll have a new (cooperation) agreement ready for him when he arrives," he added.
Medvedev arrived here Thursday for talks with Raul Castro, who took over from his brother earlier this year.
Not long after arriving in Havana from Venezuela, Medvedev held two rounds of official talks -- one private and one between the two countries' delegations -- at the imposing Palace of the Revolution.
The countries cooperate on issues of oil, nickel, telecommunications, biotechnology and tourism, although no new deals were to be forged on this trip.
Relations between Cuba and Russia had been distant after the collapse of the Soviet Union but were renewed by a visit by Vladimir Putin in 2000.
But Putin's decision to close a Russian spy base in Lourdes, south of Havana, in 2001, created a new chill in relations that lasted until 2007, when Moscow showed a new interest in Latin America.
Medvedev's visit follows an accelerated process of reconciliation, including new deals on military, energy, telecommunications and transport ties.
"Cuba has been and will continue to be one of our key partners in Latin America," Medvedev said after hosting Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque in Russia this month.
Medvedev's current Latin America tour was billed as an effort to boost trade, despite the world economic slowdown, but was also seen as a rebuff to US moves in formally Communist-ruled parts of Europe, such as planned missile defense facilities.
The Russian leader had been in Venezuela, where he signed a string of accords, including a nuclear energy deal, with fierce US critic President Hugo Chavez.
In a Russian drive in the region after an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru earlier this month, Medvedev also visited Brazil, and his foreign minister, Serguei Lavrov, stopped off in Colombia and Ecuador.
Russia sees Latin America as a "center of economic growth," Lavrov said Thursday in Quito.
Medvedev's visit to Cuba follows a trip by Chinese President Hu, who put off some of Cuba's debt payments and agreed to cooperation deals to strengthen ties between the two communist nations.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, seen here in Havana, wrapped up a strategic Latin American tour with a meeting with iconic former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Most Popular – Top Stories
World's oldest person dies at 115 years
Love handles increase death risk: study
US clears Bank of America deal for Merrill Lynch
Michael Jackson strikes 'amicable' deal with Arab sheikh
US president's mother 'doing very well' in hospital: Laura Bush
View Complete List »