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Cuba, agree new talks in March: European sources

Brussels (AFP) – Cuba and the have agreed to meet in
early March for a third round of negotiations aimed at normalising ties,
EU sources said Wednesday, less than a month after a historic
breakthrough between Havana and Washington.

The EU and Cuba, which began normalisation talks last year after ties
were suspended in 2003, had initially planned to hold a third round in
December before they were called off twice.

“Now there is a new date for a round of negotiations on March 4 and 5,”
an EU diplomat said.

“The EU condition is that Cuba does not ask for restrictions on the
subjects discussed, particularly on issues and the role of
civil society,” the diplomat said.

Two rounds of talks were held last year but in December Cuba suspended a
planned third round which would have tackled the sensitive rights dossier.

An EU source said the two sides agreed in principle to meet again in
early March in the Cuban capital Havana.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini welcomed a breakthrough
US-Cuba accord last month to re-establish diplomatic relations after
more than 50 years as a “historical turning point.”

Mogherini said at the same time that the EU also hoped ultimately to be
able to “expand relations with all parts of Cuban society.”

EU-Cuban ties were suspended in 2003 when Havana launched a crackdown
and jailed 75 dissidents in a direct response to calls for
liberalisation and greater respect for human rights.

Cuba is the Americas’ only one-party, communist-ruled state and is alone
in Latin America in not having a political dialogue with the EU.

The EU bases its approach to Cuba on a 1996 “common position” document
which states that economic cooperation must go hand in hand with
advances towards a pluralistic democracy and respect of human rights.

Source: Cuba, EU agree new talks in March: European sources – Yahoo News

http://news.yahoo.com/cuba-eu-agree-talks-march-european-sources-201201275.html;_ylt=AwrBEiHJmrdUSF8ARvXQtDMD

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