New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi has concluded her two-day fruitful visit to Cuba and highlighted the willingness of both countries to continue strengthening bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation, on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations on January 12.

The visit had its central moment with the meeting with the President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who welcomed her and said, "We consider your visit as a sign of the will and willingness of the Government of India to continue strengthening and expanding relations with Cuba, which is also our will and our desire".

During the fraternal dialogue, the President thanked MoS Lekhi for the first shipment of rice, which is yet to come to Havana, and it was acquired with a line of credit granted by the government of that country.

Likewise, he highlighted the presence of that nation in the National Economic and Social Development Plan that Cuba has drawn up until 2030, as part of which, India participates in critical programs in the food, pharmaceutical industry and renewable energy sources.

"I ratify our willingness to continue expanding and strengthening our political, diplomatic, economic, trade and cooperation ties, and we would be interested in opening up other areas for cooperation, particularly biotechnology and environmental issues," the Cuban leader stressed.

After expressing his gratitude for the "support that the Government and people of India have always given us in Cuba's struggle against the blockade", President Diaz-Canel shared with Lekhi the interest of Cuba in counting on India's support to promote, from the Pro-Tempore Presidency of the Group of 77+China, the discussion of a group of global problems and challenges currently faced by the nations of the world.

The Minister of State conveyed her country's willingness to continue strengthening the existing ties while referring to various areas where these ties can be expanded, as they are issues of common interest.

Previously, the Union minister was received by the President of the National Assembly, Esteban Lazo; by the Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gerardo Penalver; and by the Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso.

After meeting Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, MoS Lekhi said, "Had excellent meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Acting @CubaMINREX Gerardo Penalver Portal and reviewed the full range of relations between India and Cuba. Discussed ways of enhancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest."

She also paid floral tributes to the monuments in Havana dedicated to Cuba's National Hero, Jose Marti, and to the leader of Indian independence, Mahatma Gandhi.

Finally, she concluded his visit with a meeting at the Panchakarma Centre of Havana, which promotes and offers Ayurvedic medicine services.