Cuba in brighter spotlight as Russia weighs in

GMT 08:08 2015 Thursday ,19 March

Arab Today, arab today Cuba in brighter spotlight as Russia weighs in

Alexander Schetinin
Mexico City - XINHUA

Russia re-entered the diplomatic and economic fields of Latin America with glistening political promises and infrastructure projects, right after the U. S. delegation left Havana on Tuesday following the third round of Cuba-U.S. talks on normalizing bilateral ties that led to no declarable progress.
On Wednesday, Russia weighed in on the issue currently gripping Latin America: U.S. aggression against Venezuela's democratically- elected Socialist government.
Russian Foreign Ministry's director for Latin America, Alexander Schetinin, condemned Washington's violent attempts at regime change, the Havana-based Prensa Latina news agency reported.
The Russian official accused Washington of applying the same tactics it used a year ago to foment unrest in Ukraine, and continues to use against any state it finds too independent.
In an interview aired by Russia's Ria Novosti, "Schetinin warned that conservative U.S. sectors support the Venezuelan opposition in changing the country's political system via anti- constitutional means," Prensa Latina said.
Asked whether the process of rapprochement between Cuba and the United States might affect Russia's ties with the Caribbean nation, Schetinin said the ongoing talks would not alter the relations between Cuba and Russia.
In fact, Russia aims to expand cooperation with Cuba in a range of areas with an upcoming visit to the island of Foreign Affairs Minister Serguei Lavrov during his March 24-26 diplomatic whirlwind across Latin America, including Colombia, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
"The agenda is very broad, and covers bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues. In regard to regional topics (which will be discussed), I would single out two. The first is the ongoing gradual process of normalization of Cuba-U.S. ties," Schetinin said.
Russia supports the process, he said, adding that "This is recognition by the U.S. that the path of applying pressure through sanctions has reached an impasse and it is impossible to break a country."
The second central topic that will be discussed during Lavrov's working visit to Cuba will be the situation in Venezuela, Schetinin said.
Schetinin also said Cuba, Russia and the United Arab Emirates ( UAE) are discussing the possibility of building a major international airport in Cuba on the grounds of a former military base, and that they aim to develop other infrastructure projects.
Last month, Russia's Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov said Moscow was willing to invest at least 200 million U.S. dollars in the airport project, and was negotiating terms with the Emirati government-owned Mubadala investment company.
In addition, Moscow and Havana are discussing a "very serious" program to modernize power plants in Cuba. Among the most important areas of Russian-Cuban cooperation are medicine and pharmaceutics, he added.
Russia and Cuba expect to establish a strategic relationship by further collaboration in the political, economic and commercial areas, as well as in foreign investment projects, Schetinin said.

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