Sechin Leads Delegation to Nicaragua

MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin led a delegation to Nicaragua, a former Cold War ally, on Wednesday, as part of a push to increase Russian influence in Latin America after years on the sidelines in the region.

Sechin said Russia wanted to promote trade, energy and education projects, including oil exploration off Nicaragua's coast, the development of hydrothermal energy projects and expanding the number of Nicaraguan students at Russian universities, Interfax reported.

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Sergei Chemezov, head of the government-owned Russian Technologies, were also in the delegation.

Nicaragua recently joined Chavez and Cuba in recognizing the breakaway Georgian regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, backing Russia's stance in the international dispute.

(Reuters, MT)