MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed Russia's closer cooperation with an alliance of Latin American and Caribbean countries, the Kremlin press service said on Saturday.
In a message to a summit of the ALBA bloc brought by the Russian security chief, Medvedev said Russia was set to develop mutually-advantageous relations with the alliance's members both multilaterally and bilaterally.
The Russian Security Council head, Nikolai Patrushev, is attending the ALBA's seventh summit underway in central Bolivia's Cochabamba.
"I consider my first meeting with the ALBA leaders held in Caracas last November very useful. I think it necessary to consolidate contacts with the forum," the Russian president said in his message.
The ALBA bloc, designed by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, unites Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras, Dominica, Bolivia, Saint Vincent, and Antigua and Barbuda.
On the first day of the ALBA summit on Friday, the nine leaders agreed to establish a regional currency to ditch the U.S. dollar in local trade. The new currency is expected to be launched early next year.
Britain's Independent newspaper reported earlier this month that Russian officials have held "secret meetings" with Arab states, China and France on ending the use of the U.S. dollar in international oil trading.
The information was dismissed by Russian Finance Alexei Kudrin, who said, however, that the subject was "worth discussing."