* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
I wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. Cuba is not just our longstanding partner but also our friend. We are very happy to see you.
We recently celebrated the 110th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. Our relations have gone through various periods since then. Today, they are becoming more pragmatic, but everything positive that we built up over all of the preceding years remains part of our heritage now too.
It is a great pleasure to see you. I hope to discuss all of the different cooperation areas with you. Before we begin our discussion, I take this opportunity to ask you to pass on my best wishes to our great friend Fidel Castro.
President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of Cuba Raul Castro (retranslated): Mr President Putin, friends,
We are also very pleased to be here and proud to have this chance to once more be able to visit our Russian friends.
The weather was very cold when I made my last visit back in 2009, but today I feel as though I am in Havana, especially with the humidity you have here.
Coming here in summer gives me the chance to see many beautiful places in Moscow – the places I’ve seen from the car window since arriving yesterday.
I thank you for responding so quickly to my request to make this visit. I raised this matter during my meeting with the Prime Minister at the Rio de Janeiro summit.
Seeing as we came all this way and flew to Russia’s southeast, we thought it fitting that we should come to see you here and continue the talks that we began with you and then President Medvedev during the 2009 visit.
We live in a very complex world today and I think we were correct in our assessment of the issues we examined during my last visit, which took place on the eve of new change and events. In any case, it is always a pleasure to come to Russia and meet with our old and dear friends.
This is a working visit, a very intensive visit, and at the same time very useful.
We are at your disposal.