Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spanish Foreign Minister speaks of a new phase of relations with Cuba

Typically Spanish

By M.P.
Apr 2, 2007 - 10:40 PM

The Minister said it was unthinkable that Spain will not be able to maintain a constructive policy with the island

The Spanish Foreign Minister has said on Spain’s first diplomatic visit to Cuba for nine years, that a new phase of relations with the island has begun, and that it is ‘unthinkable’ that Spain will not be able to maintain a constructive policy with the island.

Speaking from Havana on Monday, Miguel Ángel Moratinos said this new phase will involve a dialogue which he described as ‘firm and open,’ where both parties will express their opinions.

‘They may not always coincide,’ he said, ‘but we will go forward together in a constant search for understanding.’

Moratinos, who was speaking after a meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Felipe Pérez Roque, on Monday, described his visit to Cuba this week as important and necessary.

He spoke of his satisfaction and gratitude at being there, and the emotion he felt at taking part in what he said must be the responsibility of all members of the Spanish government: ‘building, assisting and accompanying our friends in Cuba in everything involved in this new stage, and the new challenges presented by the future.’

The Minister told the press that his two day visit to the island includes a full agenda, which will discuss all aspects of bilateral relations, both political and economic.

He mentioned EU relations with Cuba as one of the matters he wanted to address.

Moratinos laid down a floral tribute in the Cuban capital at the monument to the national hero, José Martí, before a programmed meeting with the Vice-President, José Ramón Fernández.

His visit is the first by an EU Foreign Minister since EU diplomatic sanctions were imposed against the island in 2003.

The Minister meets Raúl Castro on Tuesday, who temporarily took over power when his brother and President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, had surgery last July.

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