Russia Wants to be 'in Step' with Cuba against U.S. Embargo

Russia and Cuba worked on their joint strategy against the U.S. economic embargo on the communist island Tuesday, during a visit by Moscow's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov, the first Russian cabinet member to visit Cuba since Washington and Havana announced they would set aside their Cold War enmity and renew diplomatic ties, met President Raul Castro at the start of a four-country Latin American tour.

Castro "thanked Russia for its support in the just demand to end the U.S. blockade," according to an official statement read on television.

Moscow has welcomed the U.S.-Cuban rapprochement but called for an immediate end to the more than five-decade-old embargo, which President Barack Obama needs congressional approval to lift.

"During the visit, we intend to discuss regional and international matters... and generally get in step, especially regarding (working against) the blockade that continues on Cuba," Lavrov told Cuban state television.

He also met with Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas, and with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez to discuss a meeting of the joint intergovernmental commission due to be held in April in Russia, according to Prensa Latina.

Before leaving for Havana, Lavrov told Russian media that he was "completely convinced that nothing threatens our close strategic relations with Cuba."

Moscow and Havana were close allies for three decades until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Relations were strained under Russia's former president Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, but the two countries have renewed political, economic and military ties in recent years.

Lavrov will also visit Colombia, Nicaragua and Guatemala on his trip.

Source: Agence France Presse

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