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Uruguay Table of Contents


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Since 1926 and renewed in 1943, Uruguay has had diplomatic and trade relations with the Soviet Union, longer than any other South American nation. Relations were at a relatively low level during the military regime. In May 1985, the Sanguinetti government authorized the reopening of the Soviet-Uruguayan Cultural Center and, in September 1986, the opening of an office of the Soviet airline Aeroflot (Air Fleet) in Montevideo, with flights to Moscow beginning in 1987. During a meeting with Soviet foreign affairs minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze at the UN on September 24, 1985, Sanguinetti asked for the Soviet Union's support for Uruguay's desire to join the group of nations operating in Antarctica (which Uruguay subsequently joined). Shevardnadze later visited Uruguay in October 1987.

In the first visit of a Uruguayan president to the Soviet Union, Sanguinetti visited Moscow in March 1988 and held a "cordial and frank" two-hour meeting with General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Sanguinetti's visit strengthened trade, economic, and cultural relations, to include the establishment of a joint Soviet-Uruguayan company. Sanguinetti also visited certain East European countries, including the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and established trade relations.

Optimistic about trade prospects, Uruguay established diplomatic and formal commercial relations with China on February 3, 1988. By 1990 China was Uruguay's fourth largest trading partner. Although both countries had conducted bilateral trade, diplomatic relations had been nonexistent since 1949. With the opening of diplomatic ties with China, Uruguay simultaneously severed relations with Taiwan. In November 1988, Sanguinetti paid a six-day official visit to China at the head of an eighty-member delegation and signed four agreements designed to further strengthen bilateral relations. China's President Yang Shangkun reciprocated with a visit to Uruguay in May 1990. The Sanguinetti government also established trade ties with Malaysia and Singapore and was planning to reopen Uruguay's mission in India.

When Sanguinetti assumed office, Uruguay had only four resident ambassadors in all of the Middle East and Africa. By 1988 Uruguay had opened resident missions in Algeria and Côte d'Ivoire, had reestablished relations with Tanzania, and had established ties with Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. In May 1986, the Sanguinetti government criticized what it termed the sovereignty and territorial integrity violations committed by the South African government against neighboring countries. It also denounced apartheid and stated its support for the peoples and governments of Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe against South African aggression. Although the Sanguinetti government announced in May 1986 that it was unwilling to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which it characterized as a terrorist organization, it accorded an official reception at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a PLO delegation participating in the first parliamentary congress of socialist parties in Latin America and the Caribbean in June 1989.

Data as of December 1990