Spain and the UK have agreed to look at revisiting European policy on Cuba “so it can be more effective,” Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said following talks with British counterpart Jack Straw.
“The United Kingdom agrees with the Spanish position to revise some measures so they may be more effective,” Mr Moratinos added on 28 October.
Meanwhile in Havana on an official visit, shadow foreign minister Michael Ancram called for more trade between the UK and Cuba.
Last month, Spain called on the European Union (EU) to help Cuba negotiate entry into the Cotonou Agreement, an EU trade and development aid pact with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) developing countries.
European Union nations met on 19 October for talks called by Spain on whether the 25-nation bloc should adopt a softer line towards Cuba.
The officials agreed to request reports from their respective ambassadors in Cuba on the current situation there, EFE news agency reported. These reports will be the basis for discussion during the next meeting, taking place 16 November.
A group of EU legislators, meanwhile, ended a two-day visit to Havana on 4 November. The visit, said Spain’s Miguel Angel Martinez, who leads the group of Cuba “friends” in the European Parliament, aimed to “move forward from a blocked situation that we see as very unfortunate”.
The delegation met Vice President Carlos Lage, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon, and Roman Catholic cardinal Jaime Ortega, and EU ambassadors in Havana.
No meetings were held with anti-government activists.
“I came here to try to solve a problem, not to try to help poison a situation,” Mr Martinez said. “We decided who the parties were who it was in our interest to see, since we believe they have the duty and power to get out of a situation that is in no one’s interest
United Kingdom could increase trade with the island
FOR Michael Ancram, opposition spokesman onm foreign affairs in the British Parliament, the experience of his first visit to Cuba and the Caribbean is highly important, as it has confirmed what his country should do to increase its trade with the island.
After touring various pavilions of the Havana Trade Fair, he noted that UK-Cuban trade amounts to merely $21 million per annum, well below that of the United States, which maintains its blockade of the island, and added that there are business opportunities for the United Kingdom that are not being taken up.
Ancram expressed his intention to encourage British companies to make a full analysis of business possibilities with Cuba, highlighting the biotechnology sphere in which the island has developed and which constitutes an area for sharing experiences and closing commercial transactions to the benefit of both sides.
He also referred to agriculture another sector for mutual deals in the form of joint enterprises.
On the other hand, the minister stated that the current difficulties between the European Union and Cuba should be resolved. He added that he would talk with his government about formulas that could be discussed in order to reach solutions and move ahead.
Ancram observed that he was impressed to see the participation of U.S. entrepreneurs in FIHAV 2004 in spite of the blockade and added that there were certain lessons to be deduced from that.
He also recalled a constant interest in relation to Cuba, and mentioned the Cuba Initiative organization, whose chairman Lord Moynihan is to make a visit to Havana in the next few days and with whom will be discussing the experiences of his first visit to the island.
“I hope that what I have learned throughout these years will allow me to make a contribution to constructing better relations between Cuba and the United Kingdom,” he concluded.