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11/01/13 -  Reuters - Mexico says it will waive most of $487 mln debt owed by Cuba

MEXICO CITY, Nov 1 (Reuters) - The Mexican government is ready to waive 70
percent of a debt worth nearly $500 million Cuba owes it, Finance Minister
Luis Videgaray said on Friday, as Mexico seeks to improve ties with the
communist island.

Speaking on Mexican radio, Videgaray said a loan issued by Mexico's foreign
trade development bank Bancomext to Cuba more than 15 years ago had become
a debt worth $487 million.  "Seventy percent of the debt is to be waived,"
Videgaray said, adding that a formal announcement would be made later.

The rest of the debt will be paid in 10 years, he added.  Relations between
Cuba and Mexico were traditionally strong, but they soured during the rule
of the conservative National Action Party between 2000 and 2012.

Ties reached a nadir in 2002 when Cuba's Fidel Castro revealed how
then-Mexican President Vicente Fox had told him to leave an international
summit early after eating his lunch so he would avoid an overlap with
then-U.S. President George W. Bush.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled the country
between 1929 and 2000 and regained power last year, is keen to establish an
influential relationship with Cuba as Fidel and his successor, his brother
Raul Castro, advance through their 80s.

Videgaray said it was important to resolve the debt issue so that "things
would flow well" between the two countries.

(Reporting by Veronica Gomez; Editing by Vicki Allen)
((dave.graham@thomsonreuters.com)(+52 1 55 5282 7146)(Reuters Messaging:
dave.graham.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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