Photo of military vehicles Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces

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Cuban President Raul Castro held talks here Friday with visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, with both sides expressing readiness to further strengthening military-technical cooperation between their two countries.

During the talks, Castro and Shoigu reviewed “the historical ties linking the two nations and ratified the willingness to continue strengthening the collaboration bonds,” according to a press release issued by the Cuban government.

Besides the Russian delegation led by Shoigu, the talks were also attended by Cuban Defense Minister Leopoldo Cintra Frias and senior officers of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Shoigu started the official visit to Cuba on Friday. Before the talks, Shoigu laid a wreath at the Cacahual Mausoleum outside Havana holding the remains of the independence war hero Antonio Maceo (1845-1896).

It is Shoigu’s first visit to Cuba since his appointment as the defense chief by President Vladimir Putin. His agenda also includes visit to military units, according to local media.

Cuba is a leg of Shoigu’s Latin American tour starting on Feb. 10, which also includes Venezuela and Nicaragua — countries maintaining close ties with Russia.

Russia and Cuba were close economic and political allies during the Cold War era. Relations between the two countries diminished after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. In 2008, Raul Castro began a very active policy of restoring old links with Moscow, ushering in exchange of visits by the two countries’ presidents.

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