MOSCOW, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia and Cuba should forge closer economic ties amid the global economic turmoil, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.
During his meeting with visiting Cuban leader Raul Castro, Medvedev said both Russia and Cuba have to bear the brunt of the global economic crisis and a number of controversies in international relations.
Therefore, the two sides should strengthen economic ties and humanitarian cooperation and explore ways to tap each other's potential, said the prime minister.
Castro told Medvedev that their meeting was "appropriate" because the two countries "get a chance to continue the talks that are started when you were president and Vladimir Putin was prime minister," the Kremlin press service reported.
The Cuban leader said he was doing his best to maintain relations between the two peoples "in good and bad times." He also accepted Medvedev's invitation to attend the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Russia visit, Castro's second since he took office in 2008, followed his trips to China and Vietnam.
Ahead of Castro's Moscow visit, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told local media that meetings between Russian and Cuban leaders will focus on ways to broaden bilateral trade, whose volume did not match the potential of Russia-Cuba relations.
The two sides would also seek to promote key transport, space, telecommunications and pharmaceutical projects, said Ushakov.
Russia has been supplying aircraft to Cuba for many years, with 40 percent of Cuban aircraft made by the Soviet Union and Russia, said the aide, adding that Russia plans to offer Cuba more aircraft so as to bring more foreign tourists to the country.
The 1959 Cuban Revolution cemented the relationship between the Caribbean island and Soviet-era Russia. Recent years have seen their relationship forge ahead with more vigorous cooperation and investment in trade, energy and other sectors.