MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has praised late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for helping Moscow to reach a new level of partnership with Latin American countries.
“What has happened in the past years in terms of [Russia’s] rapprochement with these countries – we have significantly enhanced our relations with practically all the Latin and Caribbean states – fairly reflects [policies] that Hugo Chavez promoted,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya 1 channel.
Lavrov said Russia is interested in expanding cooperation with Latin American countries, adding that most regional leaders have similar views on addressing global issues.
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez died on March 5 at the age of 58 after an almost two-year battle with cancer. Ties between Russia and Venezuela flourished under Chavez, whose 14-year-rule brought Moscow a number of lucrative arms deals.
The Russian foreign minister said he hopes this tendency in relations with Latin American countries will remain despite the death of the prominent Venezuelan leader.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who went on a brief tour of Latin America in February, called the region an area of Russia’s “strategic interest” and expressed hope that full-scale cooperation between Russia and Latin American countries will develop.
Russia is maintaining active relations with Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador.