Friday, April 06, 2007

Spain Government Pleased with Moratino's Visit to Cuba


Havana, April 5 (RHC) - The Spanish Government has expressed its satisfaction with the visit to Cuba of Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, because as they said, fluid communications with Cuba have been restored.

Spanish Secretary of State for Ibero-America Trinidad Jimenez, who accompanied Moratinos to Havana, made the statement to the Spanish radio chain Cadena Ser. She also said that no country should be isolated even if at times "we may not approve of their political system".

Jimenez noted that implementing pressures against a "sovereign country whose policies may or may not please us, does not work. And that that has been the case with Cuba".
Minister Moratinos told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that his visit meant improved communications with Cuban authorities. He stressed that good communication is indispensable for bilateral relations and he noted that for centuries, history and culture have brought Cuba and Spain together.

Moratinos trip to Havana marks the first visit of a Spanish Foreign Minister to Cuba since 1998, and the first visit of a European Foreign Minister since sanctions were imposed on the island by the European Union in 2003.

Regarding the stand Spain will adopt in the case of Cuban relations with the European Union, Moratinos said his country would like to be of assistance so that European countries could improve relations with Cuba. He stated that for Spain, it is an obligation to entertain relations with Cuba whereas for other countries it is just an option; and that there are countries that do not belong to the European Union that could have relations with Cuba but have chosen not to do so.

Moratinos who met with Cuban First Vice President Raul Castro called the interim president a cordial, affable confident political figure.

Moratinos said that Raul Castro had expressed his willingness to move forward with Cuban-Spanish relations. The Spanish foreign minister revealed that during the two-hour meeting, the two leaders discussed important international and domestic issues.

The Spanish Foreign Minister commented that he hopes the next step will be to establish a solid dialogue with Cuban authorities and he noted that too many years have passed without a Spanish minister having the chance to meet with the top officials on the island.

He concluded that Spain has always favored fluid communications with Latin American countries, and that Cuba must not be and cannot be an exception.

Though such a dialogue may not be free from criticism, but that does not prevent an improvement in the relationship.

During his two-day official visit to Cuba, Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos met with various Cuban officials with whom he agreed that economic co-operation will be renewed. Spain is Cuba's 3rd largest trading partner after Venezuela and China. according to Spanish data, bilateral trade between 2005 and 2006 rose by 23 percent, approximately 1, 2 billion dollars.

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