Cuba, EU willing to strengthen ties

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Havana, March 12 (IANS) Cuba and European Union (EU) confirmed their willingness to continue strengthening bilateral relations on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual respect, the media reported on Saturday.

During a meeting in Havana, Cuban President Raul Castro and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini congratulated each other for the signing of an agreement on Friday to normalise Cuba-EU relations 13 years after the unilateral suspension of ties by the EU, Xinhua news agency reported.

EU and Cuban officials signed the agreement in Havana during a visit by Mogherini following nearly two years of intense negotiations between the two sides that also touched upon the thorny issue of human rights, the one that prompted the EU to unilaterally suspend ties in 2003.

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When the government of Cuba arrested dozens of journalists, librarians, and human rights activists, the EU took measures in June 2003 to limit governmental visits.

Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno and the EU negotiator Christian Leffler signed the deal at a ceremony chaired by the island’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Mogherini.

“This is a historic day for bilateral relations,” Mogherini said, while calling on the US to lift its decades-old embargo on Cuba.

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