Vietnam and Cuba sign trade agreement, pledge to deepen ties

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Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, left and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel, right, review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. Diaz-Canel is on a three-day visit to Vietnam to boost ties between the two Communist allies and part of his first international tour since taking office in April (Tri Dung/ Vietnam News Agency via AP)

The leaders of Vietnam and Cuba on Friday pledged to deepen relations between two of the world's few remaining communist countries.

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President Nguyen Phu Trong and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel witnessed the signing of trade and finance agreements after an hourlong talk behind closed doors in Hanoi.

Speaking at a joint news conference, Trong, who is also the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, said "Vietnam and Cuba will continue close and comprehensive cooperation ... and deepen exemplary fraternal relations."

Trong said he and the Cuban president discussed measures to deepen ties in defense, security and diplomacy and enhance cooperation in agriculture, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical sector, medicine, education, science and people-to-people exchanges.

Diaz-Canel said all the Cubans had great admiration for Vietnam's struggles for independence and that his and Trong's visit to Cuba in March will contribute to strengthening the countries' relations.

"We also expressed our desire to continue to share experiences of building socialism in each country," Diaz-Canel said.

He thanked Vietnam for its support in efforts to lift the U.S economic embargo on the island country. Last week, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning the embargo on Cuba and rejected proposed U.S. amendments strongly criticizing the lack of human rights in Cuba.

The Cuban president is on a three-day visit to Vietnam as part of his first international tour since taking office in April. He has already visited Russia, North Korea and China and will visit Laos after Vietnam.

Diaz-Canel replaced Raul Castro in April in a historic changing of the guard in Cuba, becoming the first non-Castro head of state in the country since the revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959.