British foreign minister visits Cuba in first such trip since
AFP | London
April 29, 2016 Last Updated at 05:22 IST
Britain's foreign minister has arrived in Cuba in the first such visit
since 1959, to hold talks on cooperation in "financial services, energy,
culture and education", London announced.
It follows last month's landmark visit by President Barack Obama to the
Caribbean nation as part of a historic rapprochement between Cuba and
the United States after 50 years of enmity stemming back to the Cold War.
"As the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba since before the
Cuban Revolution in 1959, this is an opportunity to hear for myself what
Cuba thinks about its present challenges and where it sees its future,"
Philip Hammond said in a statement yesterday.
He is to hold a series of meetings with his Cuban counterpart Bruno
Rodriguez and other government leaders, according to Britain's Foreign
and Commonwealth Office.
Hammond is also to sign a "bilateral agreement restructuring Cuba's debt
to the UK" and agree on future cooperation in a range of areas from
financial services to energy and education.
The foreign minister also hopes to raise the issues of social and
economic changes in Cuba, human rights, trade, and the response to
health issues such as the Zika virus.
"Britain and Cuba have outlooks on the world and systems of government
that are very different," Hammond said in a statement.
"But as Cuba enters a period of significant social and economic change,
I am looking forward to demonstrating to the Cuban government and people
that the UK is keen to forge new links across the Atlantic.
"That is why Cuba and the UK are set to reach new cooperation agreements
on energy, financial services, education and culture, to the benefit of
both our nations."
Hammond will also meet representatives from Cuban civil society and the
British business community in Havana, according to the ministry.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini became the
highest-ranking EU official ever to visit Cuba when she travelled to
Havana in March.
During her trip she signed a deal to normalise relations with Cuba,
including an agreement on the delicate issue of human rights, in yet
another step towards ending the communist country's status as a pariah
in the West.
Source: British foreign minister visits Cuba in first such trip since |
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