Hopes to relaunch economic ties
HAVANA TIMES – Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his first official visit to the island, which seeks to strengthen economic and trade relations, reported dpa news.
Trudeau was received with military honors at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana and later met with Raul Castro behind closed doors, according to images broadcast by the state television.
In 2015, the two countries had an economic exchange of 800 million dollars, making Canada the fourth trading partner of Cuba.
Canada is also the leading source country of tourists to the island, with 1.3 million visitors in 2015, representing about 40 percent of the total.
Trudeau is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the University of Havana on Wednesday and in the afternoon to hold a press conference.
His brief stay in Havana is the first stop on a tour that also includes Argentina and Peru, where he will attend a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Association.
Cuban media have highlighted in recent days the close personal ties between his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and former Cuban President Fidel Castro during the 1970s.
The two countries have strong historical ties. Canada and Mexico, were the only countries in the region that did not support the United States in breaking diplomatic relations after the revolutionary triumph of 1959.
Under the mandate of the conservative Stephen Harper, several secret meetings were held in Canada that led to the beginning of the “thaw” in late 2014 between Cuba and the United States after decades of conflict.