British leader in Cuba, spur new relationship between the two countries

Posted: 13-May-16 12:08

On the heels of the historic visit to Cuba by President Obama, a British political leader makes his own visit to the island nation. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond landed in Cuba with the aim to sign off a financial agreement between the two nations, as well as discuss future dealings in social, cultural and economic relations.

British leader in Cuba, spur new relationship between the two countries

A month after President Obama and an American delegation touched down in Cuba for the first time in decades, a close U.S. ally is also seemingly poised to start anew politically, socially and economically. As detailed in a 29th April article printed by Sky News, Britain’s Philip Hammond recently became the first Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba in more than 50 years.

According to the Sky News article, Hammond arrived on the island nation with hopes of forging “new links” with Cuba. After his plane touched down Hammond made his first stop at Havana’s Revolution Square. There he laid a wreath in memory of Jose Mari, a local hero revered for his role in establishing Cuban Independence. This was followed by talks between Hammond and Bruno Rodriquez Parilla, his Cuban counterpart.

The British Foreign Secretary’s official role in traveling to Cuba was to hold meetings aimed at discussing economic and social change in the country, while at the same time bringing up world issues like human rights and the global threat of health concerns like the spread of the Zika virus.

One of the most important items on the agenda, however, was the role Hammond played in signing off an agreement to restructure Cuba’s debt to the UK. This follows news from December 2015 that Cuba had reached a deal with the countries of Britain, Spain and France to pay off more than $2 billion in unpaid debt to foreign creditors accumulated over the past 25 years.

Along with the signing of the debt agreement, the article adds that the two countries also planned to agree to cooperate in the future regarding energy, education, financial services and culture.

In summing up the historic visit, the article points to an optimistic future. According to Hammond,

“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.”

Hammond went on to say he believes the new relationship will benefit both countries, while giving his own nation some insight into the challenges Cuba faces and what its own future holds.


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