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EU official: Deal with Cuba possible by end of year

March 25, 2015

HAVANA (AP) — The European Union’s foreign affairs chief met with Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday in a bid to accelerate talks aimed at normalizing ties with the island’s communist government and said a deal could be in place by the end of the year.

The visit to Havana by Federica Mogherini comes as Cuban officials negotiate the terms of a historic diplomatic opening with the United States.

“We are in the process of accelerating the pace of negotiations and finalizing an agreement perhaps by the end of the year,” she told reporters at the end of the visit.

Mogherini said she welcomed the talks between Cuba and Washington, but insisted that the negotiations between the EU and Havana are “completely separate.”

The EU froze relations with Cuba in 2003 in response to the arrest of dissidents. The process to restore ties began in 2014.

Mogherini also signed an agreement to give 50 million euros to Cuba’s agriculture sector.

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