NA (AFP) - Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro unleashed his first condemnation Thursday of US President Barack Obama, accusing him of following previous US administrations by supporting Israel's "genocide" of the Palestinians.
Castro attacked Obama for allegedly continuing the policies of his predecessor George W Bush in giving unwavering support to Israel, and hence "sharing the genocide against the Palestinians."
The former Cuban president highlighted statements made by the Obama administration that reiterated its strong support for the Jewish state, which recently fought a 22-day war against the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.
In a foreign policy mission statement on its website, the US administration said its "incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the Middle East."
Castro, who gave up power to his brother Raul in July 2006 for health reasons, said the US had enabled Israel to become an "important nuclear power", and kept on strengthening the military forces with which Israel "threatens extreme violence against the population of all Muslim countries".
In the article, published online on the website cubadebate.cu, the former Cuban president also criticised Obama for suggesting Havana would have to make concessions before Washington considers returning the territory of the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
The territory was leased to the US indefinitely in 1903 after the US occupation of Cuba during the 1898 Spanish-American war. Havana has previously, but unsuccessfully challenged the lease.
Obama is "demanding a change" in communist Cuba's political regime, Castro wrote, adding that this was "a price Cuba has fought against paying for the last half century."
Maintaining the controversial military base - which continues to house "war on terror" suspects - on Cuban soil is "against the will of our people, violating the most fundamental principles of international law," said Castro.
In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Cuban leader Raul Castro pledged Friday to build "strategic" relations as Moscow moves to revive ties with its Cold War Caribbean ally.
At talks in the Kremlin on a week-long visit by the Cuban leader, Mevedev told Castro: "We have good conditions to take our relations to a strategic level.... I think your visit will start a new page in the history of friendly Russian-Cuban relations."
The Cuban leader, who has led the Communist island since his brother Fidel fell ill in 2006, said the two planned to cement a "strategic partnership."
"We are old friends and today is a historic moment, a very important landmark," Castro said. "We've known each other through good times and bad and have great experience."
Few details were made public on the agreements signed Friday, amid sniping in some Russian media outlets that the financial crisis means Moscow has little ability to realise its commercial projects in Latin America.
But Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin sounded upbeat on the prospects for cooperation in the car-making sector, shipbuilding and Russian plans to build a power station in Cuba.
In addition to agreements on car-making and education, other accords covered sports, aviation, agriculture and fishing. Russia also agreed to extend a loan to Cuba which Putin said last week was worth around $20m.