HAVANA – Cuba and Saudi Arabia want to tighten their bilateral links and increase Riyadh’s investments on the island, the countries’ foreign ministries agreed on Monday during the first official visit to Cuba by the Arab kingdom’s chief diplomat, Adel al-Jubeir.
Al-Jubeir was welcomed on Monday in Havana by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who said that he was certain this first visit “will contribute to giving an even greater push to bilateral relations, in accord with the joint decision of the two governments,” the island’s official press reported.
During their meeting, Rodriguez “reiterated Havana’s support for the just causes of the Arab peoples, in particular the Palestinian (cause), and he expressed the desire for peace and prosperity for the Middle East region,” according to the state-run Cuban News Agency.
Meanwhile, Al-Jubeir “relayed a greeting from King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the crown prince (Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud)” to Cuban President Raul Castro and expressed support for working to “increase investments and cooperation in other areas,” as well as in consultations on issues related to the international situation.
The Saudi minister emphasized that the two nations agree on “respect for sovereignty, international legality and the principle of non-interference in countries’ internal affairs,” going on to praise “Cuba’s firm stance with regard to the Palestinian cause,” the official report added.
Al-Jubeir’s visit to the communist island comes 11 months after the Saudi monarch welcomed Cuban Vice President and Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas to the city of Jeddah, a meeting at which the two men expressed their nations’ “willingness and determination ... (to) continue developing” their links, “in particular in the area of economic cooperation.”
In addition, Cabrisas welcomed on Monday the Saudi foreign minister to a meeting at which the parties once again “emphasized the level of relations between the two countries and the decision to continue developing them” in various areas.
In the economic realm, in recent years Cuba and the Saudi Development Fund have signed two agreements, one for $50 million to export Saudi products to the island and the other for $29.1 million to fund the creation of hydraulic infrastructure.
In 2017, the Arab kingdom authorized another loan for more than $26 million to the program for rehabilitation and construction of social works overseen by the Havana Historian’s Office.
So far, it has not been established whether Saudi Arabia will supply oil to Cuba at a time when the island is seeking alternative sources of petroleum in the face of the reduction in oil shipments from Venezuela.