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Mexico has welcomed Russia's return to Latin America following the Russian
Mexico has welcomed Russia's return to Latin America following the Russian leader's week-long tour of the southern continent in late November, the Mexican deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"It is important for Mexico that more countries including Russia have closer ties with Latin American countries and that's why we are saying to Moscow: welcome to Latin America," Maria de Lourdes Aranda Bezaury said.

During his Latin American tour, President Dmitry Medvedev took part in the APEC summit in Peru and later paid official visits to Brazil, as well as Venezuela and Cuba, whose leaders are strongly opposed to U.S. influence in the region.

Medvedev's trips to Lima and Caracas were the first-ever visits by a Russian leader. The Russian delegation signed around 20 documents on military and technical cooperation, energy and banking sector.

"We think that the world's leading players should be present in this region. This concerns both political, trade and economic spheres, that's why we see no obstacles in Russia taking its deserved place in Latin America," Aranda said.

Meanwhile, the deputy foreign minister voiced concerns over the ongoing "arms race" in Latin America. "Unfortunately, there is a tendency now as countries, including the world's major players, increase defense spending," she said.

The official said that Russian-Mexican trade in 2007 reached $700 million, adding that the figure was way below the potential of both countries. She said that a business center was due to be opened in Moscow next year to promote Mexican goods on the Russian market.

"To expand trade and economic cooperation we need not only political will but active participation of all the interested bodies on both state and business level," Aranda said.


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