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Strengthening ties - Medvedev visits Cuba

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Strengthening ties - Medvedev visits Cuba

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev continues his charm offensive across Latin America, arriving in Havana for talks with Cuban President Raul Castro.

Medvedev is seeking energy, military and trade agreements across the region, with speculation the two leaders will agree for Russian companies to explore oil off the Cuban coast, as well as a new air defence deal.

The visit is likely to be monitored closely by Washington, which traditionally sees Latin America as its sphere of influence.

Relations between Russia and the US have been severely tested since this summer’s war in Georgia and American plans for a missile defence program in Eastern Europe.

Medvedev arrived in Havana having earlier agreed to deals on military, oil and nuclear cooperation with Venezuela.

Receiving a warm welcome from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez the US has dismissed the blossoming relationship between the two.

Russian and Venezuelan warships are scheduled to hold joint military exercises later this week.