Lula On Official Visit Meets Castro
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|Title||:||Lula on official visit, meets Castro|
|Description||:|| 1. Various of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Cuban President Fidel Castro during ceremony outside the Palace of the Revolution |
2. Various of Silva and Castro greeting Brazilian and Cuban representatives
3. Various of Silva and Castro
4. Castro and Silva shaking hands
Brazil's leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived in Cuba on Friday to discuss regional trade, loans and political integration with his Cuban counterpart and old friend Fidel Castro, while keeping quiet on the communist-run island's internal affairs.
After arriving from Mexico, Silva attended a welcoming ceremony before retiring for talks with Castro inside the Palace of the Revolution, where the Cuban president keeps his offices.
A second round of talks is set for Saturday before Silva returns home.
Silva arrived in Havana after attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York, followed by a stop in Mexico for talks with President Vicente Fox.
Silva's visit to Cuba was expected to focus on the Brazilian leader's push for regional integration.
Since taking office nine months ago, Silva has visited or at least met with the leaders of nearly every South American nation.
Economic issues will also be on the table during the rapid visit.
Brazil's national Development Bank is negotiating a credit line of up to 400-million(US) dollars to finance Cuban imports of Brazilian machinery, farm equipment and food.
Silva's visit to Cuba comes as the island faces increased U.S. and European criticism for a massive crackdown that sent 75 dissidents to prison for terms ranging from six to 28 years.
Relatives and supporters of the Cuban dissidents have asked Silva to intervene on their behalf during meetings with Castro.
But after his meeting on Thursday night with Fox, Silva indicated he had no such plan.
Silva has toned down his once-radical image and wants to maintain good relations with Castro without antagonising the United States, Brazil's number one trading partner.
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