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General News of Monday, 25 February 2008

Source: GNA

Cuba lauds Ghana

....for championing campaign against US blockade

From Nana Kodjo Jehu-Appiah, GNA Special Correspondent, Havana

Havana, Feb. 24, GNA - Cuba has praised Ghana for using the United Nations as a platform to champion the fight of the communist state against the economic blockade imposed on it by the US.

The Foreign Minister, Mr Felipe Perez Roque, made this known in an interaction with Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who was concluding a seven-day official visit to Cuba at the weekend.

The blockade was imposed by the US over 40 years ago to strangle the communist revolution launched by the ailing former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Fidel Castro in 1959. Mr Roque said Cuba was proud of the gesture and pledged the commitment of his country towards enhancement of bilateral relations. Mr Roque announced that Cuba had been tipped to chair the Non-Aligned Movement, during the annual meeting of the body this year. He recalled the pioneering role played by Ghana's former President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Mr Castro in the formation of the Movement.

He acclaimed the contributions of the Cuban leader towards the development of the country, citing the tourism sector, where the number of tourists had sky-rocketed from 200,000 in 1993 to over two million currently.

Vice President Mahama announced a scholarship package for Cuban students to study at the Institute of Adult Education, University of Ghana, Legon, to expose them to African Studies. He said Ghana would also send a football coach to train Cubans in order to take a centre stage of the sport. Vice President Mahama also requested the communist state to offer Ghana a boxing coach, adding: "Ghana wants to see good things happening between the two countries."

He urged the Cuban authorities to establish a Trade House in Ghana to showcase made-in-Cuba products.

In another development, Vice President Mahama has interacted with Ghanaian students studying in Cuba and assured them of government's support to make their academic pursuits comfortable. "Life may be rough for you in Cuba but it is part of your training. Work hard and return to serve your country." Vice President Mahama commended Cuba for posting 183 medical personnel to serve Ghanaians.

Mr Dan Gyamfi Addo-Gamson, President of the Ghanaian Students Union in Cuba, acclaimed government for extending the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to cover the students. He urged government to allow undergraduate students to come home during their fourth year to carry out attachment programmes with the relevant institutions in order to make their academic pursuits more meaningful to Ghanaians.

Mr Addo-Gamson appealed to the Ghanaian government to increase the monthly allowance of the students to enable them to cope with the financial difficulties in Cuba.

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