The EU and Cuba have held a third round of negotiations aimed at improving relations. The two-day talks end Thursday, focusing on trade and human rights.
The talks began on Wednesday in Havana, in the third session since the EU and Cuba resumed efforts a year ago. However it was the first meeting since Washington and Cuba opened a similar dialogue in December.
Wednesday’s session made progress on labor, culture, education, health and agriculture, said Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno.
“There will be a preliminary exchange in the area of trade and the European Union tomorrow morning (Thursday) will present its points on view on the matter of political dialogue,” Moreno told reporters.
Human rights is understood to come under the topic of “political dialogue” and EU diplomats have said the issue would be discussed during this round of talks.
In 2003, the EU froze relations with Cuba after the communist led government imprisoned 73 government opponents. It resumed low-level contacts in 2008, two years after Raul Castro became president and the prisoners were released.
EU foreign ministers endorsed a plan in early 2014 to increase trade, investment and dialogue on human rights with Cuba. EU negotiators are planning for a “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” to be signed with Cuba by the end of 2015.
The EU is Cuba’s biggest foreign investor and second biggest trading partner after Venezuela. One third of tourists visiting the island every year come from the 28-nation EU.
jr/bw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)