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Cuba leader Raul Castro is set to visit Moscow
Cuba leader Raul Castro is set to visit Moscow in the near future, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

Speaking after accepting the credentials of Cuba's new ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Medvedev expressed hope that the visit by Castro would boost Russian-Cuban ties.

"Our time-tested friendship and trust have become a solid foundation for the development of Russian-Cuban relations...I hope that the upcoming visit of the Chairman of the State Council and the Council of Ministers Raul Castro to Russia will boost our bilateral ties," the Russian president said.

He did not give a date for the visit.

Medvedev visited Havana last November in the first trip to Cuba by a Russian leader since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and met with Raul Castro and the ailing leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Moscow is hoping that Russian-Cuban relations will serve as the starting point to advance Russia's interests in the entire Latin American region.

Russia's ambassador to Cuba, Mikhail Kamynin, said in December last year that "Cuba holds a key role" in Russia's foreign policy because Cuba "has a lot of authority and influence in the region."

During 2008 there was an increase in joint cooperation between the two countries in energy, transportation, tourism, pharmaceuticals, mining and construction, among other spheres.

According to preliminary data, trade between Russia and Cuba in 2008 reached about $400 million.

Kamynin also said at the time that the visit by the Russian Northern Fleet's Admiral Chabanenko warship to Havana in mid-December "was a huge political event that supplemented other important events within the framework of bilateral relations [in 2008] and demonstrated that Russia has returned to Cuba with all seriousness and for a long time to come."

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