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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Primakov Criticizes U.S. Law Tightening Cuba Embargo

MEXICO CITY -- On the eve of a visit to Cuba, Russia's foreign minister sharply criticized a new U.S. law tightening a three-decade embargo against the island nation.

Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, in Mexico City for two days of bilateral talks, said Monday that the Helms-Burton Act, signed into law in March, is of serious concern to the Russian government because it sets a precedent of intervention in international commerce.

"This seems to be the last piece of ice left over from the Cold War," Primakov said. "And despite its presence in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, it won't melt."

The Helms-Burton Act was adopted after Cuba's February shootdown of two U.S. civilian airplanes flown by a Florida-based group opposed to the communist regime of Fidel Castro.

The law, strengthening an economic blockade begun in the early 1960s, penalizes companies that trade with Cuba. It bans from the United States any executives of companies that invested in Cuba after March 12. It also allows U.S. citizens to sue anyone who has invested in American property expropriated by Cuba after the 1959 revolution.

Primakov, the highest-ranking Russian official to visit Mexico since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, arrived Sunday and was scheduled to leave for Havana on Tuesday for talks with Castro.

On Monday, Primakov and his Mexican counterpart, Jose Angel Gurria, signed accords to boost cooperation in fighting the drug trade and in technological exchange.