HAVANA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday, along with other leaders and heads of state of Caribbean countries, to chair the VI Cuba-CARICOM summit which begins Friday.
According to Cuban state television, Castro landed in Saint John's, capital of Antigua and Barbuda, just before midday local time and was received by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
The Cuban leader is also paying a formal state visit to this island country and will participate in a meeting of member nations of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
The summit in Antigua will serve to structure a common agenda that advocates for a new fair international order, solidarity, integration and trade.
Sources from the Cuban foreign ministry recently affirmed that Havana will make clear its will to promote integration, cooperation and development in the meeting with the other 14 Caribbean states.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Cuban Civil Defense Agency is expected to provide the opportunity for closer collaboration, especially after the devastating impact in the region of major hurricanes in September.
Commercial relations between the two sides were strengthened last November with the signing of the Second Protocol of the CARICOM-Cuba Trade Agreement.
The protocol expands reciprocal access to a duty-free market for more than 320 items, including meat, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beer, rum, cement, soap and clothing.
The 45th anniversary of relations between CARICOM and Cuba was celebrated in Havana on Wednesday with a political event.
On December 8, 1972, the leaders of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago made the decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and create a formal cooperation mechanism with Cuba that would focus on common concerns of developing nations.