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Cablegate: Belarus - Libertad Act

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSK #0984 3341451
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301451Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6682
INFO RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA

UNCLAS MINSK 000984

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CCA AND EUR/UMB

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

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

Ref: A. State 158768

B. Minsk 422
C. 06 Minsk 1255

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Although the frequency of high-level contacts between
Belarus and Cuba has subsided since 2006, the GOB continues to build
economic relations with Cuba (ref B). It has consistently offered
the Cuban regime strong support and has no interest in promoting
democracy, human rights or free market reforms. End summary.

Belarus, Cuba Strengthen Economic Ties...
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Belarus has signed over twenty five interstate and
interagency agreements with Cuba, including agreements on trade and
friendly relations. [Note: A history of these agreements and a
list of Belarusian firms with trade and investment relations in Cuba
was reported in late 2006 (ref C) and remains valid. End note.]
Cuban Ambassador to Belarus Omar Medina Quintero noted that a
military-technical agreement signed in 2006 was being actively
implemented.

3. (SBU) Belarusian tourism to Cuba has grown considerably, from
just 17 tourists in 2005 to approximately 1000 in 2007. [Note:
This does not include the thousands of Belarusian children from
Chernobyl-affected zones who have traveled to Cuba for rest and
recuperation since 1991. End note.] Cuba has proposed additional
economic cooperation with Belarus in the fields of oil refining,
tourism and the pharmaceutical industry, though Belarus reportedly
rejected an offer to purchase Cuban technology for the production of
a Hepatitis B vaccine. Bilateral trade in the first nine months of
2007 increased 3.2 per cent to USD 18.3 million, with Belarusian
exports to Cuba growing dramatically (94.2 per cent).

...and Belarus Continues Political Support for Cuba
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (U) In a July 2007 greeting sent to Fidel Castro on the occasion
of Cuba's "Rebellion Day," Aleksandr Lukashenko called Cuba
"Belarus' main strategic partner in Latin America," and said that
Belarus-Cuba cooperation in the U.N., the Non-Aligned Movement and
other fora had been fruitful. The GOB has displayed no interest in
human rights, democracy or free market reform in Cuba.

Delegations
-----------

5. (U) As part of the celebration to mark the 90th anniversary of
the Bolshevik Revolution, a delegation of the Communist Party of
Cuba visited Minsk in November 2007. The speaker of the lower house
of Belarus' National Assembly, Vadim Popov, will lead a delegation
to Havana in 2008.

Stewart

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