Cuba, EU to resume normalization talks with deal in sight

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Havana, Feb 24: Cuba and the European Union are set to resume talks on normalizing relations next week as an agreement appears in sight, the EU office in Havana said today.

The European Union suspended relations with Havana in 2003 over a crackdown on journalists and activists, but both sides are now pushing a new accord in the wake of a historic rapprochement between Washington and Havana.

European Union flag

Negotiators for both sides will meet in Havana on March 3 and 4 for a seventh round of talks, a statement from the office of the EU representative in Cuba said.

Talks will be headed by the EU's Christian Leffler and Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno, the statement said. Cuba is the only Latin American country without a framework cooperation agreement with the European Union.

The final points still to be hammered out include reaching a consensus on the issue of human rights, according to European diplomatic sources. The EU moved to accelerate the process of normalizing relations, which began in mid-2014, after Havana and Washington announced a historic detente, restoring diplomatic relations in July 2015.

Cuba has been pushing the European Union to scrap its nearly 20-year "common position," which makes restoring European ties with the island contingent on democratic reforms. The European Union is currently Cuba's second most important trading partner after Venezuela. (AFP) SLS SLS

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