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Cuba, Venezuela sign 13 economic collaboration agreements

Cuba and Venezuela signed 13 economic cooperation agreements on natural gas, mining, fishing, oil refining, exploration and other fields on Monday at Havana’s Convention Palace.

Raul Castro Ruz, Cuba’s acting leader and Defense Minister, and Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, oversaw the signing of the 13 agreements, which include five memoranda of understanding, two letters of intention and a cooperation agreement. According to the new plans, a plant to convert liquefied natural gas into a gaseous state will be built. The possibility of building a fertilizer plant and other petrochemical plants around the refinery will also be explored. Cuba’s low-quality crude oil is to be upgraded and oil resources in Cuba’s waters to be tapped, the plans said.

The two countries also agreed to cooperate in the nickel mining, construction and fishing industries. They will also build an underwater fiber optics cable between the two countries in an effort to bypass the US embargo. The new agreements are an extension to the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba) plan founded by the two nations in 2004 as an alternative to the US-dominated free trade initiatives. Also at the ceremony were Carlos Lage, secretary of the Cuban Council of Ministers, and the foreign ministers Felipe Perez Roque for Cuba and Nicolas Maduro for Venezuela. (