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Brussels, 19 February 2008

Statement by Commissioner Louis Michel on announcement by President Fidel Castro

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid has taken note of the announcement by President Fidel Castro to step down as President of the Council of Ministers and President of the Council of State of Cuba.

Commissioner Michel expressed his willingness to engage in a constructive political dialogue with the future successor to President Castro.

Commissioner Louis Michel also expressed his satisfaction with the recent decision by the Cuban Government to release a number of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds. This important unilateral decision, together with the recent announcement by the Cuban Government to sign the International Covenants on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights are positive steps that deserve being acknowledged.

The European Commission stands ready to continue working with the Cuban Government, in coordination with our European Union partners, to improve and deepen cooperation issues of common interest.

The Commissioner believes that his upcoming visit to Cuba on 6-7 March 2008 should contribute to advancing the dialogue process with the Cuban Government.

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