Germany hails 'very good news' of Cuba-US thaw

17th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday hailed the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba as "very good news in these times rich with conflict."

"I have great respect for President Obama's courage in ending a policy that endured for more than six decades, and which only produced status quo, (and) absence of dialogue," Steinmeier said in a statement.

"The announcement by president of the United States (Barack) Obama and Cuban President (Raul) Castro on the normalisation of relations between the two countries is very good news in these times rich with conflict," he added.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also welcomed the news "which France had long hoped for" and said he hoped it would "to the lifting of the embargo" on Cuba.

"France remains by the side of the Cuban people as it enters this new phase in its history," he added.

Earlier, the European Union resumed dialogue with Cuba in 2013, focusing notably on improved human rights, Steinmeier noted.

"I share the opinion of President Obama that the dignity and self-determination of Cubans must be the yardstick of our policy," Steinmeier said in a reminder to the Cuban government of expectations on efforts on its part.

"Cubans can (then) benefit from improved relations with the United States and Europe."

In coordinated statements issued in Washington and Havana on Wednesday, Castro and Obama announced that diplomatic relations between the two countries were to be restored after having been cut over half a century before.

The statements thanked Pope Francis for what was described as "his crucial role" in the process.

© 2014 AFP

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