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Beginning of Russian-Cuban Talks in Expanded Format

January 30, 2009

Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow

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I want to welcome you all to Moscow. This is the first time a top-level Cuban delegation has visited Russia in almost 25 years, since 1985. I take this opportunity to congratulate our Cuban friends once again on the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution, which you celebrated on January 1 this year. I would also like you to pass on my very best wishes to Comandante Fidel Castro.

I am confident that we have excellent conditions for taking our relations to the strategic level.

We have worked hard of late to give our relations a more positive and sustainable dynamic. The level and intensiveness of our contacts have increased considerably. My colleagues have made many visits over this last year, and I also made a working visit to Havana not long ago. Today we are pleased to see you here in our country. 

We are continuing our cooperation in all different areas. I think that we have good prospects for trade and economic cooperation, and cooperation in the humanitarian and cultural spheres. After our talks in expanded format have taken place, we will sign agreements. The total number of agreements drafted and signed during this work, during the Intergovernmental Commissions work, yesterdays work, is considerable indeed: the Intergovernmental Commission has drawn up 24 documents, and a number of other agreements will be signed now. This is a good result, and I once again want to thank the heads of the Intergovernmental Commission and everyone who took part for their hard work.  

We have very good potential for growth. Our bilateral trade comes to only a modest figure for now, but I think we can make a lot of progress. The figure we have now, $239 million, is absolutely not the kind of level that can satisfy our countries. The task now, of course, is to implement all of the agreements we have reached. 

Mr President, our work together yesterday was productive. We discussed the foreign policy agenda and examined our bilateral relations. We continued our talks in one-on-one format today. All of these contacts and discussions show that, for the majority of issues before us, we can come up with effective solutions and interesting ideas to carry out. I think that your visit to our country will open a new chapter in the history of Russias and Cubas friendly relations and will mark their transition to the strategic partnership level. Once again, I welcome you to Moscow. We are ready to continue our talks.

PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE AND THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF CUBA, RAUL CASTRO (retranslated from Russian): So as not to make the meeting go on any longer than necessary, I just want to say that I confirm and fully agree with what President Medvedev has just said. This is without doubt a historic moment and an important milestone in the relations between Russia and Cuba. We are old friends and we have been through good times and bad together. We have a lot of experience in our relations with each other.

This meeting, the IX meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission, has enabled us to make real progress. For Cubas part, I can declare that we have taken a great stride forward in strengthening our relations. We have done so in calm but very effective fashion, and in all the different areas. The Memorandum on Strategic Partnership is an excellent reflection of all that we have accomplished and all we aspire to in the future. Thank you very much

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