HAVANA._ Cuba and Italy pledged to work together to strengthen bilateral relations and highlighted areas of common interest in the context of a recent visit by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Minister Gentiloni´s program included talks with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez and President Raúl Castro. In his talks with Rodríguez, Gentiloni said that his country hoped to improve cooperation with Cuba in various areas and reiterated commitments to contribute to the recovery of the historical, cultural, and artistic heritage of both Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

Cuba and Italy pledged to work together to strengthen bilateral relations and highlighted areas of common interest in the context of a recent visit by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.Meanwhile, the Cuban Foreign minister expressed his satisfaction with the state of bilateral relations, manifest in deep cultural and historic bonds.

Rodriguez said that great scope existed for the development of bilateral relations and referred particularly to the areas of trade, tourism, academia, scientific research and bio-technical and pharmaceutical production.

He also thanked Italy for its role in the talks process between Cuba and the European Union (EU) as well as its traditional opposition to the economic blockade the United States has maintained against this Caribbean nation for over 50 years.

Later on, Gentiloni attended the highest level meeting of his visit when he was received by the Cuban President Raul Castro.

In those talks, both sides spoke of the favorable advancement of bilateral relations and their willingness to amplify economic ties and levels of cooperation between the two nations.

Having concluded his scheduled meetings, the Italian Foreign Minister hosted a press conference on the results of his visit during which he came out in favor of enhanced economic ties with Cuba and the improvement of relations between the Caribbean island and the EU.

Cuba and Italy pledged to work together to strengthen bilateral relations and highlighted areas of common interest in the context of a recent visit by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.On the latter, he said that Italy would lend further support to the productive ongoing dialogue between the EU and Cuba in search of policy and cooperation accords and called on the block to meet more frequently with the Cuban government to promptly address and resolve outstanding issues.

The Italian minister welcomed decisions announced by Cuba and the U.S. last December 17 about moving towards the normalization of ties, saying that he had expressed his hope to Raul Castro that this process might, by its very nature, result in the lifting of the economic blockade. Gentiloni said that although actions to normalize relations between Cuba and the U.S. and agreements between Cuba and the EU were both of vital importance in their own right, he cautioned that they should be kept separate and that both should progress without one impeding the other.

On the economic front, the Foreign Minister said that he had talked to Cuban authorities about collaboration mechanisms for Italian enterprises and cooperatives, especially in the fields of renewable energy and tourism.

He added that Italy would increase cooperation in the context of the modernization of the Cuban economic model –a process that was viewed positively– and the steps towards the normalization of ties with the U.S.

In this regard, he said that an Italian business delegation will visit Cuba in early May while an office of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade will be opened in Havana before the upcoming summer.

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