Cuba seeks stronger EU-CELAC relations, condemns EU’s ‘manipulative behavior’


HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba will look to expand cooperation at an upcoming summit of European Union, Latin American and Caribbean leaders next week, its foreign minister said, but accused the EU of “manipulative behavior” that could hamper leaders’ ambitions.

Heads of state from the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are set to meet in Brussels on July 17-18, the first summit after an eight-year hiatus, where they are expected to discuss climate change, development financing and the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.

“We hope the summit will allow us to expand inclusive and mutually advantageous cooperation in areas of high priority,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a statement Monday, pointing to food security and renewable power.

However, Rodriguez added the EU’s “lack of transparency and manipulative behavior in preparing for the summit puts its success in serious risk.”

The diplomat said the EU had tried to impose restrictive, divisive ways of holding talks that made “direct, transparent talks impossible.”

The EU’s diplomatic service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Those who try to impose a biased and Europeanist vision of the bi-regional relationship will have no chance of success in Brussels,” Rodriguez said.

The EU is Cuba’s top trade partner and says it is committed to mutual respect despite U.S. sanctions against Havana and the opening of the island to Russian businessmen.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, visited Havana last May where he criticized Washington’s over six-decade-old trade embargo against Cuba. He has also expressed concern about the island’s human rights record.

“Cuba will go to the Brussels summit with a constructive spirit,” Rodriguez added, saying the country would contribute as much as possible to strengthen EU-CELAC relations “on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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