Mexico considers Castro's exit of "great importance" for Cuba

Other News Materials 19 February 2008 22:55 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Fidel Castro's decision to step down from power in Cuba "is without a doubt an event of great importance for political life in Cuba," the Mexican Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a statement.

In the document, Mexican authorities "stress their will to keep making progress in the bilateral rapprochement process launched several months ago, aimed at fully restoring respectful relations that are mutually beneficial for Mexico and Cuba."

The two countries have had several bilateral disputes since 2001 which approached the breaking point in 2004, when diplomatic ties were reduced to charge d'affaires level for a few months.

However, relations are now back to the level of ambassadors, and the two nations - despite evident ideological differences between Castro and conservative Mexican President Felipe Calderon - have made efforts to bring them back to normal standards.

"(The Mexican government) wishes to express to Commander Castro, an outstanding player in the international events of the last century, its best wishes for his prompt recovery," the statement added.

Castro, 81, said Tuesday he would step down from the formal leadership of the communist island, more than a year after illness forced him to temporarily hand over power to his brother, Raul.

"I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief," Castro said in a message to the Cuban people published in the Communist Party daily Granma.

The posts, which Castro has held for decades, are to be filled when the new Cuban National Assembly holds its first meeting Sunday.