World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Union and Cuba on Monday signed a deal to normalise ties that had been blocked for decades by human rights concerns under revolutionary icon Fidel Castro.
But EU ministers last week dropped a policy in place since 1996 which stated that Cuba first had to improve its human rights record before getting closer links with the bloc.
Monday's accord was signed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and representatives from the EU member states at a Brussels ceremony capping years of difficult negotiations.
Mogherini offered condolences on Castro's death, telling reporters it was "only natural that we are closer to Cuba as it undergoes profound change."
She said she was also "very encouraged" by dialogue with Havana on human rights and the accord would help foster Cuba's social and political modernisation.
Castro died last month after more than 50 years at the helm of a self-styled Socialist paradise reviled by the West, with Cuba gradually opening up to the world, including bitter foe Washington.
In 2003, the EU imposed sanctions on Cuba and suspended cooperation over a crackdown on journalists and activists and it took until 2008 to get talks going again.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Aralık 2016, 14:04