HAVANA, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has urged the European Union (EU) to "modernize" its ties with Cuba.
Speaking Monday during an official visit to the Caribbean nation, Timmermans said: "Interesting things are happening in Cuba, and it's time for the European Union to modernize its ties with the island."
After being received by Ricardo Cabrisas, vice president of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Timmermans said his government was paying close attention to the social and economic reforms that brought business opportunities to Cuba.
But he noted that there were still "few" ties between Cuba and the Netherlands, and hoped his trip could herald the start of "lasting and good cooperation."
Meanwhile, Cabrisas expressed Cuba's willingness to explore shared objectives with the Netherlands in areas of mutual interest.
The EU's current policy towards Cuba is determined by the so-called "Common Position," an initiative adopted in 1996 by member countries, restricting ties with Cuba due to alleged human rights violations.
Cuba said that ties between the two sides could make progress only if the "Common Position" was scrapped.
However some EU countries, including Germany, Britain, Sweden and the Czech Republic, are opposed to dropping the restrictions, while any further measures must be unanimously approved by all EU members.
Cuba and the Netherlands signed an agreement in 2013 to spur cooperation in trade, investment, agriculture, healthcare, culture and sports.
The Netherlands is Cuba's second-largest European trading partner, after Spain, with trade volume reaching 792 million U.S. dollars in 2012,and about 30,000 Dutch vacationers visited Cuba in 2013, according to the island's National Statistics Bureau (NSB).