Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Apparent beheading of Steven Sotloff sees more calls for #IsisMediaBlackout

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Lesotho Coup: Exiled Prime Minister vows to return home after fleeing

Read more

DEBATE

Child Migrants In America: What to do about the wave of unaccompanied minors? (Part Two)

Read more

DEBATE

Child Migrants In America: What to do about the wave of unaccompanied minors?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Abbas Araghchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

FOCUS

When water becomes a weapon of war

Read more

ENCORE!

Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ed Husain, Author of 'The Islamist'

Read more

  • IS video purports to show beheading of second US journalist

    Read more

  • Obama orders 350 more US troops to Baghdad

    Read more

  • Could France sell the Mona Lisa to pay off its debts?

    Read more

  • Video: Bodies ‘left behind’ as Ukraine forces flee rebel assault

    Read more

  • Trust and 'bio-disaster units' needed to fight Ebola

    Read more

  • France vows crackdown on unemployment benefit ‘abusers’

    Read more

  • Julie Gayet wins privacy case against French glossy Closer

    Read more

  • Germany blocks popular car pick-up service Uber

    Read more

  • Several UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

    Read more

  • NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia

    Read more

  • French clubs left behind as others spend big

    Read more

  • Britain drops arrest warrant for ill boy’s parents

    Read more

  • When water becomes a weapon of war

    Read more

  • Arab media strike back at IS Islamists – with cartoons

    Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

    Read more

  • Boko Haram Islamists seize northeast Nigerian town

    Read more

  • Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

    Read more

Chavez welcomes 'brother' Castro to Caracas

Video by Philip CROWTHER , Nadia CHARBIT

Latest update : 2008-12-14

Cuba's President Raul Castro was welcomed by close ally Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Castro is to meet diplomats and military officials on Sunday, before flying to Brazil on Monday for a South American summit.

AFP - Cuban President Raul Castro was to hold talks with diplomats and military officials Sunday during his symbolic first official trip to Venezuela, Cuba's vital political and economic ally.
   
The visit is the first by Raul Castro, 77, outside Cuba since he formally took over the presidency of Cuba in February, after replacing his ailing brother Fidel, 82, more than two years ago.
   
Initially set to last only a few hours, the trip was extended until Monday morning when Castro will fly directly to Brazil to take part in a Latin American summit, diplomats and officials said late Saturday.
   
Castro was also to meet with Cuban specialists working in Venezuela.
   
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a staunch supporter of Cuba and close friend of former leader Fidel Castro, received Castro with military honors Saturday.
   
"Brother, welcome to your country," said Chavez.
   
"I bring greetings to all Venezuelans and an embrace from the Cuban people and the leader of the revolution, comrade Fidel Castro," Raul Castro said.
   
The Cuban leader placed a wreath at a statue of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar in central Caracas, in a repeat of a gesture made by his brother Fidel in the past, before holding talks with Chavez on economic issues.
   
Oil-rich Venezuela is Cuba's main business partner, and aside from the symbolism of the visit, the two leaders are likely to discuss joint strategies to combat the global economic crisis, particularly low oil prices.
   
The visit comes only a few weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, and Chavez has said the trip carries "the same meaning" as Fidel Castro's first international visit -- also to Venezuela -- after claiming victory in 1959.
   
"If only the destiny of our peoples could be one single destiny!" Fidel Castro said in a speech at the time.
   
The two countries are hand-in-glove allies today.
   
Venezuela supported Cuba during its 1990s crisis sparked by the break-up of the Soviet Union, and more recently during Fidel Castro's deteriorating health.
   
Cuba receives some 100,000 barrels a day of Venezuelan oil under easy-to-pay conditions, and Venezuelan experts are working with Cubans on a petrochemical project in the southern city of Cienfuegos. Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA is among firms searching for oil off Cuba's north coast.
   
More than 30,000 Cubans, including doctors, teachers and sports trainers work in Venezuela.
   
During Chavez's visits to Cuba, the two leaders have agreed on projects in key sectors such as oil, nickel, communications and tourism, and set up joint companies in construction, gas, transport and food production.
   
According to official figures, bilateral projects since 2006 represent some 3.6 billion dollars, and the two countries plan more than 300 joint projects in 2009.
   
Both countries, staunch foes of the market-minded US government, together set up the ALBA leftist trade alliance in 2004 as an alternative to US-backed free trade policies.
   
The Venezuelan leader closely follows the state of health of Fidel Castro, his ideological "father," and has visited the former president at least 13 times at the undisclosed location where he is convalescing.
   
Raul Castro leaves Monday for a policy-coordinating summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Brazil focused on integration and development.

Date created : 2008-12-14

COMMENT(S)