EU minister backs end to Cuba sanctions

March 10, 2008 at 2:24 PM
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HAVANA, March 10 (UPI) -- An official of the European Union is calling for an end to EU sanctions imposed in 2003 against Cuba.

Belgian Louis Michel, the EU's development commissioner, made the suggestion during a visit to the Caribbean island, the first by a high-level EU official in five years, The EU Observer reported Monday.

Havana is insisting that the EU sanctions which affect only diplomatic contacts, not trade or investment activities, be dropped immediately.

The sanctions were partially suspended in 2005 but kept subject to reinstatement through periodic reviews of Cuba's human rights record.

In a joint message issued during his visit, Michel said the sanctions "should be definitely eliminated" and that they remain the main obstacle to political talks with Havana.

The statement offers a sharp contrast to the United States position following the transfer of power from Fidel Castro to his brother Raul.

"So far, all Cuba has done is replace one dictator with another," U.S. President George Bush said.

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