Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ice thaws between Spain and Cuba

Euro News

30/09 18:32 CET

Spain and Cuba have taken a big step towards mending relations by signing a new partnership deal. Ties had been severed since 2003 when La Havana jailed 75 dissidents. The deal includes support for small businesses, the environment, and joint efforts in other countries such as Haiti.

"This is a move aimed at helping the poorest," said Spain's International Cooperation minister Leire Pajin. "We will cooperate where help is needed, regardless of where a citizen is from or his government." Spain is Cuba's third biggest trading partner at around 700,000 euros per year and a major investor in the island.

The European Union is split over Cuba, with Madrid's socialist government favouring more engagement, and other EU members keen to keep up pressure for political change. The Spanish foreign minister set the stage for the agreement with a visit in April - the first by an EU official since the crackdown on dissidents four years ago.

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