Medvedev in Cuba to revive Soviet-era ties

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is visiting former Cold War ally Cuba as a resurgent Moscow expands ties in Latin America by seeking new energy, military and trade deals across the region.


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Friday as the two Cold War allies strengthened their ties, Russia's state RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The meeting came at the end of Medvedev's Latin America tour which has been seen as an attempt by Russia to flex its
muscle in Washington's traditional backyard by seeking energy, military and trade cooperation across the region.

"This has been a great visit, a magnificent visit," Cuban President and Fidel's brother, Raul Castro, told reporters.

Fidel Castro, 82, who ruled Cuba for 49 years before Raul became president in February, has not been seen in public since undergoing surgery in July 2006. But he writes regular newspaper columns and meets with foreign leaders.

No photographs or television images were immediately available of his meeting with Medvedev.

Fidel Castro held talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier this month in Havana.

Medvedev traveled to Cuba from Venezuela, where he and anti-U.S. leader President Hugo Chavez oversaw joint naval
exercises. The trip came as tensions between Moscow and Washington simmer over U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe and Russia's brief war with Georgia.

Raul Castro could visit Russia next year and Moscow has called on Washington to end its economic embargo on the
Caribbean island imposed in 1962, three years after Fidel came to power in an armed revolution.

Moscow was Havana's main benefactor during the Cold War but the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union battered Cuba's economy.

Ties soured further after then President Vladimir Putin closed Russia's Lourdes intelligence base on the island in 2001.

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