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Russian Warship to Visit Panama Naval Base


The Russian navy says one of its warships will visit a naval base in Panama, following the completion of its joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy.

A navy spokesman, Igor Dygalo Wednesday said the destroyer, called Admiral Chabanenko, arrives Friday for a six-day visit at the Rodman naval base in the port of Balboa at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, formerly a U.S. naval hub.

The spokesman says it will be the first time since World War II that a Russian ship has crossed the canal.

On Tuesday, Russia wrapped up training exercises with the Venezuelan navy in Moscow's first such Caribbean deployment since the Cold War.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev finished a four-nation tour of Latin America last week in a bid to bolster ties in the region.

Russian officials have denied that the tour and naval maneuvers were meant to provoke the U.S. in its sphere of influence.

The United States built the Panama Canal almost a century ago. The waterway reverted to Panamanian control in 1999 under a treaty signed in 1977 by then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panama's military leader, General Omar Torrijos, the late father of the current Panamanian president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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