Cuba and EU agree to new talks following historic breakthrough with US

Two Butterflies With Flags On Wings As Symbol Of Relations Eu AnBRUSSELS, Belgium, Friday January 16, 2015, CMC – The European Union (EU) says it has agreed with Cuba to meet in early March for a third round of negotiations aimed at normalizing ties.

The agreement comes less than a month after a historic breakthrough between Havana and Washington.

The EU and Cuba, which began normalization 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 human rights issues and the role of civil society.”

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,” according to EU News.

The EU 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.”

The EU said ties with Cuba were suspended in 2003 when Havana launched a crackdown and jailed 75 dissidents in a direct response to calls for liberalization and greater respect for human rights.

The EU said 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 said it 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.”

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