EU Aid Commissioner Michel and Cuba's FM Roque shake hands in Havana October 23, 2008. The European Union has agreed to remove all sanction against Cuba leading to the resumption of co-operation between the 27-nation EU and Cuba.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
HAVANA, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Cuban Foreign Minister
Felipe Perez Roque and European Commissioner of Development and Humanitarian
Aid, Louis Michel, signed a declaration on Thursday to restore the bilateral
cooperation at the headquarters of the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana.
During the meeting both sides hailed the restoration
of the bilateral ties, which are based on the principle of reciprocal and
non-discriminatory treatment, with respect for each other's sovereignty.
Michel said he was pleased with the agreement, and
reaffirmed the European Union (EU)'s intentions to strengthen ties with Cuba.
He also announced an emergency aid worth 2 million
euros (2.6 million U.S. dollars) to help Cuba recover from hurricanes Gustav and
Ike, which have produced more than 5 billion dollars in losses.
The EU will also provide 25 million to 30 million
euros (32.5 million and 39 million dollars) to Cuba from next year to rebuild
schools and damaged houses.
The EU has a "very strong willingness to make the
best efforts" to reestablish the cooperation with Cuba, Michel said.
The agreement is an important step forward toward the
normalization and advancement of the bilateral ties, as well as the beginning of
a new stage for their relations, Perez said.
In 2003, the EU imposed sanctions on Cuba, which were
suspended in 2005 and were totally lifted at the EU summit in June 2008.
The EU delegation arrived here on Wednesday and will
stay in Cuba till Sunday for meetings with Cuban leaders. It will also visit
hurricane-hit regions in the Caribbean country.
Michel's visit came one week after the restart of the political dialogue between both sides during a ministerial meeting in Paris.
EU Aid Commissioner Michel and Cuba¡¯s FM Roque exchange signed documents at Cuba ' s foreign ministry in Havana October 23, 2008. The European Union has agreed to remove all sanction against Cuba leading to the resumption of co-operation between the 27-nation EU and Cuba.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)