Italy asks Cuba for 'concrete gestures' on dissidents

5th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Italy said it hoped Cuba would make "concrete gestures" in favour of jailed dissidents after talks between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

In a meeting with Cuba's ambassador to Italy Rodney Lopez Clemente, Italy's undersecretary for foreign affairs Vincenzo Scotti "underscored the great expectations aroused among Italian public opinion and its politicians by the beginning of dialogue between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church."

A gesture, Scotti said, would trigger "an improvement of the island's image at the international level, giving vigour and concreteness to the dialogue that the European Union wants to pursue with Cuba."

Scotti expressed particular concern over the situation of dissident Guillermo Farinas, who has been on a hunger strike for four months.

In June, Cuba released a jailed paraplegic political dissident in prison since 2003 as a result of talks between the Roman Catholic Church and President Raul Castro.

Earlier on Monday, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said he hoped a trip to Cuba this week for talks on human rights will lead to "results", as Spanish media said Havana may agree to free some political prisoners.

Moratinos was leaving for Cuba later Monday to raise human rights issues and support mediation efforts launched by the Roman Catholic Church to begin releasing political prisoners.

Spain's leading daily El Pais said Moratinos believes Cuba's communist government will gradually begin releasing political prisoners starting with 26 whose are in poor health, as a result of his visit.

Another newspaper, ABC, said most of the freed inmates would go to the United States, while France and Italy are also ready to take in some of them.

© 2010 AFP

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