Russia says considers $20 mln loan to Cuba
Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:35pm IST
MOSCOW, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Russia is considering loaning $20 million to
Cold War ally Cuba, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday, adding
that the money would be spent on buying Russian goods.
Rising import costs, falling prices for key export nickel and three
hurricanes meant that 2008 was one of the worst years in Cuba's recent
history [ID:nN27285223]. "We need to make a decision on giving Cuba a
loan of $20 million… That money would be spent at our companies
because the plan is for Cuba to use the funds for buying Russian-made
goods," Putin told a government meeting.
"In the current, non-simple economic situation, I think this will be for
the good of Russia's real economy sector."
Despite spending billions of dollars to support the economy and cushion
the slide in the rouble's exchange rate, Russia still has the world's
third-largest gold and forex reserves, which were worth $426.5 billion
on Jan. 9.
Cuban President Raul Castro plans to visit Moscow, Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev said last week, without specifying a time frame.
Moscow was Havana's main benefactor during the Cold War and Medvedev's
visit to Cuba last year was seen as a sign that Russia seeks to rekindle
the alliance abandoned after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russian oil firms want to drill offshore and its military has talked
about airspace defence cooperation with Havana. (Reporting by Toni
Vorobyova; Editing by Ron Askew)