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EU should revise position on Cuba: Netherlands FM

AFP | Last Updated: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 01:27

Amsterdam: The European Union should seek to strengthen ties with Cuba, Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said Tuesday during a two-day visit to the Communist-run Caribbean nation.

"Throughout the centuries, Cuba has been a meeting point for Europeans and Americans and I believe that Cuba still has a role to play between Europe and the Americas," Timmermans said during a meeting with Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez.
"I believe that dialogue between the European Union, the Netherlands and Cuba is extremely important for the development of the region," he added.

After meeting with the Vice-President of Cuba`s Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, Timmermans added that the EU should update its position on Cuba.
"I think it`s time for Europe to revise its position on Cuba and negotiate a new position," he said.

The EU suspended links with Cuba in 2003 after a crackdown which saw 75 dissidents thrown into jail. All of those jailed have since been released.

Since dialogue between the EU and Cuba resumed in 2008, several bilateral agreements have been reached between Havana and around 15 members of the EU, which maintains a stance adopted in 1996 linking relations to improvements in human rights in the country.

The Netherlands had a "special interest in strengthening bilateral relations" with Cuba following reforms launched three years ago by Cuban President Raul Castro, Timmermans added.

The Netherlands is the second biggest European business partner of Cuba, behind Spain, with deals worth USD 792 million in 2012, according to Cuban figures.

First Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 01:27
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