The upcoming official visit to Cuba by President Vladimir Putin would help to boost cooperation between Moscow and its key Soviet-era ally, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Saturday, Interfax reported.
Russia believed the mid-December visit to Cuba would "consolidate the two countries' political will to develop relations," which had languished over the past decade, Ivanov said at a meeting with Cuban government minister Ricardo Cabrisas.
Ivanov conceded at the meeting to plan Putin's visit that the 1990s had seen "a serious change in the nature and content" of Russian-Cuban relations, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"There was a slump in these relations, including in trade and economic ties," Ivanov was quoted as saying by the news agency, before adding that it was necessary to "combine efforts to get over this slump."
Putin's visit to the Caribbean island will be the first such trip by a Russian head of state.
Close allies for 30 years, the two countries loosened ties after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, plunging Cuba into an unprecedented economic crisis with the loss of 75 percent of its overseas markets.
Putin and Cuban leader Fidel Castro met in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN Millennium Summit.
Castro has not been to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev visited Cuba in 1989, the last Soviet president to do so -- MOSCOW (AFP)
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