Russia’s Medvedev sets off for Latin American tour

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Friday began a seven-day tour of Portugal and four Latin American countries, during which he will attend a summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific economic council (Apec), a presidential aide said.

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Medvedev will discuss his initiative to sign a pan-European security treaty and measures to fight the consequences of the global financial crisis with his Portuguese counterpart Anibal Cavaco Silva and Prime Minister Jose Socrates Friday, Sergei Prikhodko said.

After Tuesday talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado said Lisbon welcomed Medvedev’s security pact initiative and called on the rest of Europe to follow suit.

Medvedev will take part in the Apec summit in the Peruvian capital Lima Saturday and Sunday, and hold a number of bilateral meetings with the US, Chinese, Japanese and Australian leaders.

The Russian president is also expected to meet his Indonesian and Philippine counterparts on the sidelines of the summit.

After the summit, Medvedev will stay on in Lima for an official visit and would meet Monday meeting Peruvian President Alan Garcia, before visiting Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba.

Brazilian political analysts and experts on Russia expect Medvedev’s three-day stay in there to play a crucial role for all levels of bilateral contacts.

“For a number of reasons – historical, geographical – we [Russia and Brazil] are hardly rivals in any major sphere. On the contrary, our economies are mutually complementary, which offers a host of opportunities for cooperation,” said Gilberto Ramos, who heads the Brazil-Russian chamber of industry and commerce.

Bilateral trade has already exceeded $7 billion this year, and Brazil and Russia plan to increase annual investment to $10 billion by 2010, Ramos said.

On a visit to Caracas, the first by a Russian head of state, Medvedev will meet late Wednesday his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez. The two leaders will give a joint news conference after the signing of bilateral documents.

Cuba is the last country on Medvedev’s itinerary. On Thursday, he will hold talks there with Cuban leader Raul Castro before returning to Moscow.

Medvedev will be accompanied by a number of ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the heads of several government departments and leading businessmen.