Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin T.D meets with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Peréz Roque in Havana
Speaking from Havana during the first official visit by an Irish Foreign Minister to Cuba, Minister Michael Martin said:
I am delighted to be here in Cuba today and to have had a most engaging meeting with Foreign Minister Felipe Peréz Roque. We discussed a broad range of topics including the possibilities for developing bilateral relations and trade.
We spoke about the increasing contacts between Cubans and Irish people, a significant number of whom visit Cuba as tourists each year. Connections are also to be found in the spheres of third level education, biotechnology and culture. I hope and expect that these can be further developed following my visit.
Our meeting took place against the backdrop of the reestablishment of dialogue between Cuba and the EU. I am very pleased to have been able to meet with Minister Roque so shortly after these developments and we had a frank exchange on the issues addressed within this structured dialogue which include; political, economic and development cooperation.
We discussed the question of Cuba’s relationship with the United States and I had the opportunity to hear Minister Roque’s views on the Cuban perspective on the changes which President Obama might bring to the US-Cuba relationship. I was able to confirm once again that Ireland, together with its EU Partners, has long opposed the US Embargo on Cuba.
I also asked Minister Roque for an update on the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes, Gustav and Ike last year. The Cuban Government was well prepared and ensured that loss of live was avoided. I congratulated Minister Roque on this, and on the fact that no time was lost in the rehabilitation and recovery of damaged infrastructure. Ireland is pleased to have been able to contribute to this work and has now provided €100,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross for their work through our Emergency and Recovery Funds.
18th February 2009