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EU official calls for normalized Cuba ties

May 12, 2009 at 11:13 AM

BRUSSELS, May 12 (UPI) -- The European Union is contemplating normalizing relations with Cuba despite continuing reservations over its human rights record, officials say.

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said Monday as the EU and Cuba held talks in Brussels that the time has come to establish officialdiplomatic ties with Havana, the EU Observer reported.

"I think that if the European Union does not consolidate the normalization of relations with Cuba, the Americans will do so before us," Michel said.

"Cuba is ready to normalize relations, to establish a new start in the relationship between the European Union and Cuba," said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who reportedly added that the current EU position on Cuba was "obsolete."

However, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout expressed caution, saying Cuba is still not acknowledging holding political prisoners and harassing dissidents and journalists.

"We came back to the issue of political prisoners in Cuba and their health, and the answer we got was that in Cuba there are no political prisoners," Kohout told the newspaper.

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