Castro meets Lavrov to inaugurate statue with 24-karat gold

Russia, Cuba encourage Venezuelan talks with opposition

HAVANA, Cuba – Raúl Castro and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov celebrated Wednesday the restoration of the iconic Statue of the Republic -- which is covered with 24-karat gold -- in the Capitol of Havana. Russia financed the project. 

Officials expect the Capitol's restoration, which includes a gold-covered dome, will be completed by November when Cuba will celebrate the 500 years of Havana. Lavrov praised the joint project and said it is an example of the cooperation between the two countries. 

"Cuba is a faithful friend," Lavrov said. 

Lavrov also met with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, and talked to reporters about the situation in Venezuela and said the international community needs to support the ongoing peaceful talks with the opposition and discourage foreign interference. 

Norway's foreign ministry reported the talks, which began in May, are taking place in Barbados. 

There are two leaders in Venezuela claiming to be presidents. Russia and Cuba support Nicolás Maduro, while the United States supports Juan Guaidó, who as the leader of the National Assembly deemed Maduro's 2018 re-election fraudulent.

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