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African Leaders Strengthen Ties with Cuba

NEW YORK, Sep 29 2014 (IPS) - (GIN) – While the U.S. tightens an economic embargo on its island neighbor, several African leaders were making a pilgrimage to Havana to strengthen bilateral relations.

Niger’s President Issoufou Mahamadou arrived Sunday on an official visit to Cuba aimed at developing exchanges in the areas of health, sports and education.

The arrival by Mahamodou follows visits by the presidents of Equatorial Guinea and Namibia.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba during a tour last week of Havana’s National Zoo, expressed the hope that economic development could be fostered for the benefit of the two nations. Namibia has contributed 144 animals of 22 different species to the National Zoo.

Also this month, South Africa agreed to give Cuba a multi-million dollar economic assistance package. The $31 million deal will be delivered to Cuba in three installments.

The first payment will be to purchase seeds for Cuban agriculture. The second installment is earmarked for buying goods from South Africa. The final allotment will be a $18.75 million line of credit.

South African President Jacob Zuma pledged the money to Cuba in 2010, but its implementation was delayed for several years.

The deal was signed Friday by South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

Finally, the Cuban ambassador to Angola made a special trip to the central Huambo province for the second annual meeting of Cuban residents in Angola. Some 5,000 Cubans live in Angola working in education and health.

Meanwhile, Cuba this week announced it had increased the number of medical specialists assigned to the West African nation of Sierra Leone. A group of 165 healthcare workers is due to arrive in early October.

The 62 doctors and 103 nurses have been training for their mission with international experts at a Havana hospital specializing in tropical diseases.

 
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