Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Cuba and Russia sign trade deals

Raul Castro
Ties between Russia and Cuba are growing stronger again

Cuba and Russia have signed a series of bilateral trade and economic accords, in the latest sign of strengthening ties between the two countries.

The accords were signed during a visit by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin - his third trip to the Caribbean island in three months.

His visit came at the end of a tour that included Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The accords signed covered the automobile, nickel and oil industries, as well as the supply of wheat to Cuba.

Mr Sechin's visit came in advance of an expected visit to the region later this month by the Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev.

Russia was the first country to send humanitarian aid to Cuba earlier this year, after the island was hit by two major hurricanes.

The latest agreements highlight the efforts by both countries to strengthen their economic ties, correspondents say.

They add that renewed Russian interest in increasing co-operation with left-wing governments in the region - including joint naval exercises with Venezuela - also poses potential diplomatic challenges for both the current US administration, and the President-elect, Barack Obama.

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