Cuba, EU discuss dialogue, cooperation in lead up to normalizing ties

March 5, 2015 11:42 am 

HAVANA, March 5 — Representatives of Cuba and the European Union (EU) met here Wednesday for two days of talks towards an agreement on political dialogue and bilateral cooperation.

The gathering marked the third bilateral meeting between the two sides since efforts were launched in April of last year to normalize ties.

Ties between Cuba and the European bloc became strained when the EU adopted the so-called "common position" in 1996, which basically aligned Europe's policy towards Cuba with Washington's, restricting trade and diplomacy due to an alleged lack of democracy and respect for human rights in the Communist-ruled island.

"This round must lead to progress in … Cooperation and Dialogue on Sector Policies," the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Cuba said the talks have been progressing "on a foundation of equality and mutual respect."

This third round follows the Dec. 17 joint announcement by the U.S. and Cuba on normalizing diplomatic ties after more than 50 years of icy relations.

French President Francois Hollande announced Tuesday he will be visiting Cuba in May, a first for a French head of state.

Cuba is the only Latin American country with which the European bloc has not signed any bilateral agreements, though more than half of the EU's 28 member states have individually signed bilateral cooperation accords and memorandums of understanding on political exchange with the Caribbean country.

The EU delegation is headed by Christian Leffler, managing director for the Americas of the EU's foreign service, while Cuba's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Abelardo Moreno headed the island's delegation. (PNA/Xinhua)

FFC/EBP

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