Cuban-Iranian relations

Cuban-Pacific relations

Cuban-Pacific relations are diplomatic, economic, cultural and other relations between the Republic of Cuba and countries situated in Oceania. In the 2000s, Cuba has been strengthening its relations with Pacific nations, which have, for the most part, responded favourably to Cuban medical aid in particular. The first Cuba-Pacific Islands ministerial meeting was held in September 2008 in Havana, with government members from ten Pacific countries -Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea- attending. The meeting was a consolidation rather than a starting point of Cuban-Pacific relations.

Formal diplomatic relations

Cuba has only one embassy in Oceania, located in Wellington (opened in November 2007). It also has a Consulate General in Sydney. However, Cuba has official diplomatic relations with Nauru since 2002 and the Solomon Islands since 2003, and maintains relations with other Pacific countries by providing aid.

September 2008 ministerial meeting

The first of its kind, it brought together government representatives of Cuba, Papua New Guinea and nine Pacific Island countries. Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque stated that Cuba hoped to assist small island developing states in facing the effects of climate change, an issue of particular concern for Pacific nations. Attendees were also due to discuss "strengthening co-operation in health, sports and education".

Among officials in attendance were I-Kiribati President Anote Tong, along with I-Kiribati health minister Dr. Kautu Tenanaua, and Tuvaluan Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia. Fiji was represented by foreign minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and the Solomon Islands by foreign minister William Haomae. President Tong, by meeting President Raul Castro to discuss "mutual friendship and cooperation", became the first Pacific leader to pay a state visit to Cuba.

Following the meeting, it was reported that Cuba and the Pacific countries involved had "strengthened their cooperation".

Cuban medical aid

Cuba's medical aid to Pacific countries has been two-pronged, consisting in sending doctors to Oceania, and in providing scholarships for Pacific students to study medicine in Cuba at Cuba's expense.

There are currently sixteen doctors providing specialised medical care in Kiribati, with sixteen more scheduled to join them. Cubans have also offered training to I-Kiribati doctors. Cuban doctors have reportedly provided a dramatic improvement to the field of medical care in Kiribati, reducing the child mortality rate in that country by 80%, and winning the proverbial hearts and minds in the Pacific. In response, the Solomon Islands began recruiting Cuban doctors in July 2007, while Papua New Guinea and Fiji considered following suit.

In 2008, Cuba was due to send doctors to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Nauru and Papua New Guinea, while seventeen medical students from Vanuatu would study in Cuba. It was reported that it might also provide training for Fiji doctors.

As of September 2008, fifteen Cuban doctors were serving in Kiribati, sixty-four Pacific students were studying medicine in Cuba, and Cuban authorities were offering "up to 400 scholarships to young people of that region". Among those sixty-four students were twenty-five Solomon Islanders, twenty I-Kiribati, two Nauruans and seventeen ni-Vanuatu. Pacific Islanders have been studying in Cuba since 2006.

Particular bilateral relations

Fiji

Fiji's ambassador to the United Nations, Berenado Vunibobo, stated in 2008 that his country could seek closer relations with Cuba, and in particular medical assistance, following a decline in Fiji's relations with New Zealand.

Nauru

In June 2007, Nauru adopted the "Cuban literacy method", reportedly used also in several other countries. In October 2007, Nauruan Foreign Minister and Trade Minister David Adeang travelled to Cuba to strengthen relations between the two island nations. This led to the creation of a Cuba-Nauru Joint Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation. An unspecified number of Cuban doctors are serving in Nauru.

New Zealand

Regarding relations with New Zealand, Cuban ambassador Jose Luis Robaina Garcia said his country had "admiration for New Zealand's independent foreign policy".

Solomon Islands

In April 2007, the Solomon Star reported that the Solomon Islands’ High Commissioner to the United Nations was soon to be sworn in as Ambassador to Cuba. In September 2007, it was announced that 40 Cuban doctors would be sent to the Solomon Islands. The Solomons’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Patterson Oti said that Solomon Islander doctors would "learn from their Cuban colleagues in specialized areas. In addition to providing doctors, Cuba provided scholarships for 50 Solomon Islanders to study medicine in Cuba for free. According to a spokesman for the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, the Solomons are "desperately in need" of doctors, and hence grateful to Cuba for its "much needed assistance".

External links

References


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