Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cuban President Raul Castro in First Visit to Venezuela

Raul Castro in first visit to Venezuela


CARACAS--CUBAN President Raul Castro was due in Caracas yesterday for a short, but symbolic first official foreign trip, to the communist island’s main political and economic ally, ahead of a summit in Brazil.

The Cuban leader was due to arrive early yesterday and meet privately with Cuban diplomats before placing a wreath at Venezuela’s National Pantheon, where South American independence icon Simon Bolivar is buried.

Later, he was due to meet with President Hugo Chavez in his Miraflores palace.

The trip will be the first visit by Raul Castro (77) outside Cuba since he formally took over the presidency in February, replacing his ailing older brother Fidel (82).

Three days later, he is due to attend a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in eastern Brazil focused on integration and development.

"Raul Castro will visit us on Saturday. Welcome president!" Chavez said during a public event earlier this week, underlining that the visit would have "the same meaning as Fidel’s visit in 1959".

Fidel Castro, Chavez’s ideological "father", visited Caracas in 1959, in his first foreign trip as Cuban leader, to thank Venezuela for the help it gave to Cuban rebels, barely 22 days after toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista. — AFP.

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