Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond became on Thursday the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba since 1959. In a series of high-level meetings, the Foreign Secretary will call on his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez and other government leaders to discuss the recent social and economic changes in Cuba, human rights, trade and investment, and the fight against global health threats such as the Zika virus.
During the historic visit, the Foreign Secretary will sign a bilateral agreement restructuring Cuba’s debt to the UK and will agree future UK-Cuba cooperation on financial services, energy, culture and education.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said “Britain and Cuba have outlooks on the world and systems of government that are very different. But as Cuba enters a period of significant social and economic change, I am looking forward to demonstrating to the Cuban government and people that the UK is keen to forge new links across the Atlantic.
“That is why Cuba and the UK are set to reach new cooperation agreements on energy, financial services, education and culture, to the benefit of both our nations. As the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba since before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, this is an opportunity to hear for myself what Cuba thinks about its present challenges and where it sees its future.”
The Foreign Secretary will also meet representatives from Cuba’s civil society and the British business community in Havana.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini became the highest-ranking EU official ever to visit Cuba when she travelled to Havana in March.
During her trip she signed a deal to normalize relations with Cuba, including an agreement on the delicate issue of human rights, in yet another step towards ending the communist country's status as a pariah in the West.