Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov wound up a three-nation Latin American visit in Venezuela May 26. He had earlier held talks in Mexico and Cuba. In Caracas May 24, Primakov and his Venezuelan counterpart signed an interstate cooperation agreement and an intergovernmental agreement on cultural and scientific cooperation. Primakov, whose visit was aimed at raising Moscow’s profile in the region, described the friendship and cooperation agreement as emblematic of the political and economic ties that Moscow hoped to establish throughout Latin America. While in Caracas, Primakov also proposed resumption of a three-way oil-for-sugar barter arrangement between Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela that was discontinued following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He said that Moscow is now completing a feasibility study on the issue and suggested that related talks might begin soon.
During his visit Primakov said publicly that he hoped Boris Yeltsin would win reelection in Russia’s upcoming election. But he also underscored that Moscow would fulfill its foreign policy obligations and commitments regardless of who emerged victorious. Back in Moscow May 27, a Foreign Ministry official suggested that Primakov’s visit to Cuba, and his two separate meetings with Cuban president Fidel Castro, had further boosted Moscow’s already warming relations with its former Caribbean ally. The official also took another shot at the American Helms-Burton law and reiterated Moscow’s intention to pursue trade relations with Cuba despite that law. (Interfax & Itar-Tass, May 24-27)
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