Friday, November 28, 2008

Medvedev meets with Raul Castro in Cuba

HAVANA (AFP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev prepared to leave Cuba Friday after a visit with President Raul Castro to forge closer ties with the former Cold War ally, on the last leg of a tour to boost Russia's reach in Latin America.

Not long after arriving in Havana around 2050 GMT Thursday 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.

Then the Cuban president, who maintains a low public profile, and Medvedev paid a visit to the new Russian Orthodox cathedral in colonial Old Havana, with bells tolling and security tight.

It marks the last stop for Medvedev on a four-nation trip, including Peru, Brazil and Venezuela, where he visited Russian warships due to carry out joint maneuvers next week.

It was unclear whether Medvedev, on the first visit by a Russian leader to Cuba since 2000, would also meet ailing former president Fidel Castro, 82, before leaving.

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