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Putin visits Latin America before BRICS Summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Latin American countries before taking part in a summit of the BRICS group of emerging economies in Brazil.

Putin met Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana on Friday.

Putin said Russia will write off 32 billion dollars of Cuba's debts from the Soviet era. They account for 90 percent of Cuba's total debts to Russia. Putin also said the remaining 10 percent will be used for investment in Cuba.

Putin and Castro also exchanged views on Russia's support for infrastructure building. They agreed to step up economic cooperation.

Putin also visited Nicaragua. He is the first Russian president to travel to the country, which is known for its anti-US stance.

Putin and the Nicaraguan leaders talked about ways to strengthen security cooperation.

The Russian president went to Argentina on Saturday. He signed a deal with Argentine leaders on building nuclear plants.

Analysts say Putin's tour is aimed at increasing Russia's influence over countries that are geographically close to the United States.

Jul. 13, 2014 - Updated 07:23 UTC