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Russian foreign minister praises new U.S.-Cuba relations
HAVANA Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:00pm EDT

(Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised the thaw in
U.S.-Cuban relations on Tuesday during a six-hour stop in Havana, his
first visit here since the United States and Cuba agreed to restore
diplomatic ties.

Lavrov, on a Latin American tour that will also take him to Colombia,
Nicaragua and Guatemala, met with President and other top
Cuban officials.

“Normalization between the United States and Cuba makes us happy. We
salute this rapprochement,” Lavrov said via interpreter in video carried
on ’s Telesur network.

U.S. President Barack Obama reversed longstanding Cuba policy in
December, agreeing with Castro to restore diplomatic relations and seek
to end more than five decades of animosity between the old Cold War rivals.

The change has led to bilateral talks in Havana and Washington, with the
two sides potentially reaching an agreement on diplomatic relations
before Obama and Castro both attend a regional summit in Panama in April.

Obama also wants to end the U.S. economic of Cuba but cannot do
so without approval from the Republican-controlled Congress.

“We call for the lifting of the (U.S.) trade and financial blockade of
Cuba as soon as possible,” Lavrov said.

Cuba has repaired its relations with Russia, which were severely
strained after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the new Russian
government cut off generous subsidies to Cuba, leading to a protracted
economic crisis.

Oil-rich Venezuela has since replaced Moscow as chief benefactor to
Cuba’s Communist government.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie Adler)

Source: Russian foreign minister praises new U.S.-Cuba relations |
Reuters –
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-latam-russia-idUSKBN0MK2QV20150324

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