Russia has increased arms sales to Latin America but Moscow’s interests in the region are “purely commercial” said Russian Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Lavrov following talks with his Mexican counterpart, the last stop of a regional tour that included Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
”We have recently increased supplies of Russian arms in various regions of the world, including Latin America; our interests are purely commercial” said Sergei Lavrov.
Russia sold weapons worth over 8.5 billion US dollars last year, including 7.4 billion via state arms exporter Rosobornexport, which is 10% up on the previous year. In coming years Russia plans to export 9 to 10 billion USD in arms annually.
“But we are still far behind the United States as an arms supplier” pointed out Lavrov who revealed Mexico was interested in helicopters for coastal patrolling and in surveillance equipment to combat the drug trade.
However he pointed out to the economic potential of Latinamerica. “It’s evident that Latinamerica is rapidly becoming a new area of fast economic development, so there’s great potential for cooperation and Russia wants to participate of that process”, underlined Lavrov.
During the meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa the two officials reviewed extensively various aspects of the bilateral relationship and exchanged opinions on ways to strengthen it.
Espinosa and Lavrov also discussed the results of the fourth meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic, Commercial, Scientific, Technical and Maritime Transportation Cooperation that was held on December 7-8, 2009 in Moscow.
They particularly stressed the interest of both parties in concluding the negotiations on an Agreement on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments in the near future and in legal instruments for cooperation in the areas of energy, nuclear energy, maritime and air transportation, and financial and customs cooperation.
In the multilateral arena, Espinosa and Lavrov addressed the work done by both countries in the UN Security Council and the G20. They also addressed global issues such as the impact of the international financial crisis, energy and the environment and international security, agreeing that the weight of both countries in their respective regions is important for promoting issues of mutual interest.
Foreign Secretary Espinosa told Foreign Minister Lavrov that Mexico is interested in having Russia participate in the commemoration of the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, and in the three high-level international events that Mexico will host in 2010: the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the fourth Global Forum on Migration and Development and the World Youth Conference.
The two officials also discussed the situation in their respective regions and the measures taken to contribute to the international aid for Haiti.
In addition, Foreign Secretary Espinosa and Foreign Minister Lavrov applauded the upcoming 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries (December 12, 1890) and agreed to promote an agenda of commemorative events during 2010 to raise awareness of the Mexican-Russian relationship.