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Cablegate: Belarus: Libetdact

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSK #1255/01 3411248
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071248Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5413

UNCLAS MINSK 001255

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL BO CU
SUBJECT: BELARUS: LIBETDACT

REF: STATE 191752

1. Summary: The GO is building economic ties with Cuba,
strongly spports the Cuban government, and has no interest
n promoting democracy, the protection of human rigts or
free market reform. End summary.

Belarsian-Cuban Investment, Trade and Exchanges
--------------------------------------------- --

2. Question 1: Belarus and Cuba actively seek spheresof
economic cooperation. On November 22, Belaruian Foreign
Minister Viktor Gaisyonok stated at he Belarusian-Cuban
Commission on Trade and Econmic Cooperation, "today we are,
above all, intersted in the stabilization of trade between
Belaru and Cuba, the development of relations in the baning
and finance spheres, cooperation in biomedicne and an
increase in supplies of medicines and quipment to Cuba."

3. As of November 1, the OB reported that
Belarusian-Cuban trade and investment totaled USD 17.7
million, up 25.7 percent from this time last year.
Belarusian exports to Cuba totaled USD 6.2 million in goods,
including trucks (USD 2.4 million), engines (USD 1 million),
tractors (USD .5 million), spare parts for machinery (USD .2
million) and radio equipment (USD .3 million), tires (USD .2
million), busses, vehicles, footwear, petrochemicals, and
electronics. Cuban exports to Belarus totaled USD 11.5
million and included raw sugar cane, medicine, tobacco
products, hard liquor, and citrus products.

4. Belarusian traders and investors in Cuba include the
National Bank of Belarus, Belvneshekonombank, Priorbank,
Belagroprombank, Belarusbank, Belinvestbank, Minsk Tractor
Works, MAZ (bus and truck factory), Minsk Engine Plant, BelAZ
(dump truck factory), Belarusian State Television and Radio
Company (BSTRC). OAO Amkodor plans to open a construction
equipment factory in Cuba. Cuban companies investing in
Belarus include Cuba's Central Bank and Cuban Institute of
Radio and Television.

5. Question 2: On September 3, 2000, Belarus and Cuba
signed two separate trade agreements, the Agreement Between
the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Government
of the Republic of Cuba on Trade and Economic Cooperation and
the Agreement Between the Republic of Belarus and Republic of
Cuba on Friendly Relations and Cooperation, which sought to
promote and protect mutual investment, develop mutual trade,
assist businesses in the respective countries in conducting
joint investment projects, and create financial and
industrial groups and joint ventures. On February 26, 2003,
Belarus and Cuba signed the Agreement Between the Committee
on Standardization, Metrology and Certification with the
Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus and the
National Bureau on Standardization of the Republic of Cuba,
which allowed for freer movement of goods between the nations.

6. In addition, press reports indicate that the GOB has
ratified other bilateral agreements within the past two
months, which promote greater cooperation and exchange in
transportation, air service, politics, legal matters,
information exchange and municipal services. New agreements
are currently in the works to enhance cooperation between the
central banks and increase trade of potash fertilizers,
fabrics, clothes, and dried milk.

7. Question 3: On November 23, Belarus and Cuba signed an
accord to reinitiate educational exchange programs, which
have been frozen since the fall of the Soviet Union. On the
same day, the Belarusian State Television and Radio Company
signed an agreement with the Cuban Institute of Radio and
Television allowing the two institutions to exchange radio
and TV news, culture, music and entertainment programs.

Belarus and Cuba: Friends Forever
---------------------------------

8. Question 4: Belarus considers Cuba to be one of its few
close friends and allies on the world stage and has no
interest in promoting democracy or human rights in Havana.
Belarus actively supports Cuban initiatives in international
fora. On November 9, Cuban Ambassador to Belarus Omar Medina
Quintero expressed his country's gratitude to Belarus for its
support and assistance in the international arena and in
opposing one of the great powers (i.e. the United States).

9. This support in the international arena is mutual. On
October 30, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergey Sidorskiy
expressed Belarus' mutual gratitude to a visiting Cuban
delegation led by parliamentary president Dr. Ricardo Alarcon
for Cuba's support of Belarus policies and initiatives,
stating "we feel the personal support of Ricardo Alarcon,
which he renders to Belarus in international organizations as
a professional in politics."

10. Question 5: In September, President Aleksandr
Lukashenko traveled to Havana for the Non-Aligned Movement
Summit. Following his visit, representatives from Cuba's
Central Bank came to Minsk on October 8-12 to discuss a
possible bank cooperation agreement. On October 30, the
Cuban National Assembly President Dr. Alarcon called on the
Belarusian Parliament in Minsk to discuss measures to promote
closer economic cooperation between the two countries. In
conjunction with the Belarusian-Cuban Commission on Trade and
Economic Cooperation on November 21-23, Cuban Deputy Prime
Minister for foreign investment and economic cooperation
Ricardo Guerrero Blanca visited Minsk.
Stewart

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