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President Lula da Silva will offer Cuba $1 billion in credit
Brazil also will offer to cooperate in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and in building a lubricants plant, though risk and investment contracts are still being negotiated by Brazilian state oil company Petrobras (PBR.N: Quote, Profile, Research) (PETR4.SA: Quote, Profile, Research), they said.

"Brazil wants to be engaged in Cuba and has economic, trade and technological resources to offer at a time when Cuba seeks to modernize," said a Brazilian foreign ministry official.

"They need new friends and they want us here," he said.

It was uncertain whether Lula would meet with ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro during his 24-hour visit to Cuba following Monday's presidential inauguration in Guatemala.

"It won't be confirmed until it happens," a Brazilian diplomat said. "It will happen if Fidel feels up to it."

Castro has not appeared in public since he underwent stomach surgery in July 2006 that forced him to hand over power to his brother Raul.

Cuba's ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma said Lula, who is being accompanied by four cabinet ministers and the head of Petrobras, Jose Sergio Gabrielli, will meet with acting president Raul Castro.

Brazil will double credit lines for Cuban food purchases to $200 million and offer credit lines worth $600 million to build roads in Cuba, $70 million for a nickel plant and more for specific projects in biotechnology and other sectors, the Brazilian official said.


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