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    Russia to press for lifting of U.S. sanctions against Cuba

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    Russia will press for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Cuba nearly 50 years ago, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

    MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will press for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Cuba nearly 50 years ago, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

    In an interview with Prensa Latina ahead of Cuban President Raul Castro's visit to Moscow, Lavrov said: "We are set to continue our determined efforts to have the blockade, which is a relic of the past era, lifted."

    Lavrov said Russia had sought to improve the situation for Cuba and get the country "reintegrated into regional and global processes," and had repeatedly voted on UN resolutions against the U.S. blockade.

    The UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions urging the United States to lift the economic embargo against Cuba annually since 1991. Havana says the sanctions were imposed in violation of international law and became a major obstacle in the country's socio-economic development.

    Washington, which does not have any diplomatic relations with Havana and considers Cuba to be a state-sponsor of terrorism, has refused to withdraw the sanctions.

    The U.S. first introduced an arms embargo in the late 1950s, during an internal conflict between Cuban rebels and the Batista government. In 1960, the then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced a partial economic embargo, and since then a succession of presidents have reinforced the blockade policy. In 1992, Washington introduced the Helms-Burton Act, which penalized foreign companies trading with Cuba.

    Lavrov said he hoped a new U.S. administration would change its position on the issue considering plans to review foreign policies announced by Barack Obama.

    Lavrov said Castro's Russian week-long visit - the first by a Cuban leader since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 - would bring a series of agreements to diversify and boost trade. He said the visit, which began on Wednesday, would be "a milestone event" in the two countries' relations.

    Cold War allies, Russia and Cuba have recently moved to restore their ties which declined after the breakup of the U.S.S.R.

    A Russian anti-submarine destroyer and two logistical warships visited Cuba in December, in an extension of a Latin American tour, which raised concerns in Washington.

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