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Castro in Moscow, to attend WWII parade

Castro in Moscow, to attend WWII parade

MOSCOW: Cuban President Raul Castro kicked off a symbolic visit to Moscow on Wednesday that was set to include a WWII victory parade and meetings with Russia’s leadership at a time of thawing ties between Havana and Washington.

Castro’s presence in Moscow makes him one of a dwindling list of dignitaries and foreign leaders set to attend the grandiose Red Square parade on May 9 to mark 70 years since the WWII victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

Western diplomats have made plans to visit Russia this week but few European leaders are staying for the parade and even Russia’s closest allies from the former Soviet Union, including Belarus, have opted to stay away.

The visit is Castro’s third to Havana’s Cold War-era ally Moscow as head of state. He is the first foreign leader to arrive ahead of the celebrations that will showcase Russia’s military might. Castro was pencilled in to meet Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday after jetting into Moscow late on Tuesday.

He was also likely to hold one-on-one talks with Putin, though details of an official meeting have not been announced.

He and Putin last met in July 2014, when Putin went to Cuba on his Latin American tour. This will be their first encounter since the historic rapprochement between the island’s leftist leaders and the United States.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2015

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