MOSCOW Moscow is ready to help Cuba develop its own space center, Russia's space agency chief said on Wednesday after talks in Caracas with Venezuelan and Cuban officials, Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Russia has stepped up efforts to develop closer links with both countries, which are ideological enemies of Washington, including sending Russian strategic bombers on a mission to Venezuela this month.
"We have held preliminary discussions about the possibility of creating a space center in Cuba with our help," the chief of Russia's Federal Space Agency Anatoly Perminov was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass in Caracas.
"With our Cuban colleagues, we discussed the possibilities of joint use of space equipment ... and the joint use of space communications systems," Perminov was quoted as saying.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin visited Cuba this week and together with representatives from several Russian ministries and large Russian companies looked at ways to help Cuba recover from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
Renewed Russian links to the Caribbean island will stir memories in Washington of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when the United States and Soviet Union almost went to war over Soviet missile bases on Cuba, which is 90 miles from U.S. shores.
Russian officials have said they want to renew Cuban ties that were neglected after the Soviet Union's collapse.
(Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Richard Balmforth)