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Cuban First Vice President Raul Castro will head the Cuban delegation that will participate in the Fourth Petrocaribe Summit that will take place next Friday in the central Cuban city of Cienfuegos.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister
Alejandro Gonzalez announced that 12 heads of state and government out of the 16 countries that make up the regional energy cooperation body have already confirmed their presence on the island for this event.

Some of the leaders who have confirmed their attendance are the presidents of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; Haiti, Rene Preval; and the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez. Also confirmed are the prime ministers of Jamaica, Bruce Golding; Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer; and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.

Gonzalez explained that, on this occasion, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago will again participate as guests while Guatemala and Honduras will do it for the first time in the same condition.

Also attending the event will be representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Cuban diplomat added.

He noted that the event will take place at the Jagua Hotel in Cienfuegos and that it would be preceded by a meeting of ministers in charge of the energy sector in their respective countries.

Gonzalez explained that the development of agreements reached at previous summits will be evaluated while participants will also exchange opinions about efforts aiming at turning this regional initiative into an instrument of cooperation and regional integration.

He also announced that the closing ceremony of the event will include the re-inauguration of the oil refinery of Cienfuegos, a Cuban-Venezuelan joint-venture, which will process 65,000 oil barrels per day in its first stage.

The idea of Petrocaribe emerged on June 29th, 2005, during the First Energy Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean in Venezuela. It is a mechanism of energy cooperation among underdeveloped countries based on solidarity and preferential treatment to the poorest or most underdeveloped nations.


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