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Posted January 10, 2005 by Dana Garrett in Castro's Cuba

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The European Union reiterated Thursday the need for Cuba to renew diplomatic ties with the whole 25 member bloc, saying it was “unfortunate” that Havana had resumed contacts only with eight EU states.

EU foreign ministers are to discuss this month how to proceed with sanctions in place against Cuba, after the resumption of ties by Havana with eight EU members who have stopped inviting dissidents to official embassy functions.

“It is a bit unfortunate that measures were for a few countries and not for others,” said a diplomat from the EU’s current Luxembourg presidency.

“We are discussing this,” she added, but said: “It puts the EU in an uncomfortable position. The EU has a joint policy. And if we change a decision must taken jointly,” she added.

The EU froze relations with the communist government in June 2003 following a crackdown on opposition to President Fidel Castro. Seventy-five dissidents were rounded up and jailed for terms of between six and 28 years.

Three Cubans found guilty of trying to hijack a plane to the United States were executed.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Tuesday called the partial resumption of ties “a step in the right direction,” but underlined that the EU wants Havana to resume full ties.
“Clearly diplomatic relations do need to be established with all members of the (European) Union,” said commission spokeswoman Francoise Le Bail, adding that Cuba is on the agenda of a scheduled EU ministers’ meeting on January 31.

“Cuba will be discussed ... Various aspects will be discussed including sanctions on that day,” she said.
According to diplomats, there is still strong opposition to ending the freeze on relations from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland, and intense debate is expected at the ministerial meeting later this month.


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