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Mon 27 Oct 2008, 11:10 GMT

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will offer to share its air defence expertise with Cuba when a military delegation visits the Caribbean island this week, Interfax news agency reported on Monday.

“The Russian and Cuban military will exchange experience in organising tactical air defence and in training officers,” Interfax quoted Russian Land Forces spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.

The two sides will “discuss the prospect of training Cuban servicemen at the tactical air defence academies and training centres in Russia, using upgraded Russian-made military hardware,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

The delegation, led by the chief of Russia’s tactical air defence headquarters, Lieutenant General Alexander Maslov, will also look at “ways to strengthen relations between the Russian armed forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba,” Konashenkov was quoted as saying.

The delegation will be in Cuba from Monday until November 3, Konashenkov was quoted as saying. Reuters could not immediately reach Konashenkov for comment.

In 1962, Cuba became the focus of the deepest crisis of the Cold War after the Soviet Union installed missiles there, prompting a standoff with Washington. The island’s government remains hostile to the United States.

In the past few months, Moscow has stepped up contacts with both Cuba and Venezuela, another South American critic of the United States.

(Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Caroline Drees)

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved. | Learn more about Reuters

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