Russian President Vladimir Putin today (May 7) welcomed President Raúl Castro to the Kremlin and engaged with him in a private discussion of several topics of mutual interest. No details of the talks were immediately available, but it was clear from the outset that the meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere.
As Castro entered the meeting hall, Putin stepped forward, right hand outstretched. After a handshake, both men embraced and shook hands again before sitting down at the table. Putin smiled broadly throughout the conversation.
The Cuban delegation included Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías, the defense minister; Emilio Lozada García, the ambassador to Russia; Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and Alejandro Castro Espín, the president’s son.
Before the photographers and reporters were dismissed, the following exchange between Putin and Castro was recorded:
PUTIN (through interpreter): Esteemed comrade President. Dear friends!
Allow me to welcome you to Moscow. I look back with pleasure on my latest trip to Cuba, when you received us warmly.
I do not need to characterize the quality of the Russo-Cuban relations. They have quite a long history, but, above all, we are celebrating the 55th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
PUTIN: Exactly. We are very pleased to see you. Welcome.
CASTRO: Many thanks. Dear friend Putin, dear comrades!
In the first place, I want to thank you for the invitation you sent us to participate in this important anniversary of the Great Victory by the people of the former Soviet Union.
As I said yesterday to the president — to the prime minister [Dmitri Medvedev], I could not be absent from this holiday.
In Cuba, in the presence of the Speaker of Parliament [Sergei Narishkin], various activities took place on the occasion of [Victory Day].
We recall your recent trip last year to our country and the important agreements we made — to which we arrived.
Yesterday we were — with Medvedev, [Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry] Rogozin and other government leaders — talking about them.
[Photo at top of Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Raúl Castro in the Kremlin.]