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‘Difficult’ to finish EU-Cuba talks this year – EU official

‘Difficult’ to finish -Cuba talks this year: official

Brussels (AFP) – The EU and Cuba have made good progress in
normalisation talks but getting an accord this year, the stated aim of
both sides, may prove difficult, an EU official said Wednesday.

“An end-2015 deal, that is the objective … but it is difficult. It is
better to have a good agreement before an early agreement,” the official
told a briefing ahead of the next round of talks in Havana next week.

“We will do what we can to achieve that; we are expecting another round
of talks this year, in November, I expect,” added the official who asked
not to be named.

Both sides reported good progress on trade and economic issues at their
last meeting in June in Brussels but EU sources said then that sharp
differences over remained.

The EU official repeated the point Wednesday but added: “That is no
surprise, we always knew that.”

The official stressed that what is known as a Political Dialogue and
Cooperation Agreement would be a framework for ties, allowing both sides
to cover a full range of issues, including human rights.

“It is not an agreement that sets out a specific agenda of actions (for
either side) or a precise timeable.”

The froze relations with Cuba in 2003 after a crackdown
on activists and journalists but opened normalisation talks early last
year as Washington moved to restore ties with Communist-ruled Havana
after more than 50 years of unrelenting hostility.

The EU official said the improvement in US-Cuba ties and the resumption
of diplomatic relations in July clearly helped the 28-nation bloc in its
own talks with Havana.

But he also stressed that unlike Washington, the EU had had diplomatic
relations with Cuba for many years and was one of the country’s major
trade and partners.

Source: ‘Difficult’ to finish EU-Cuba talks this year: EU official –
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