Cuba and the European Union will meet Wednesday and Thursday for a third round of negotiations aimed at normalizing ties following the historic rapprochement between Havana and Washington.

The EU and Cuba, which began talks last year after ties were suspended in 2003, had initially planned to hold a third round in December before they were called off twice.

The new talks come after France announced Tuesday that its President Francois Hollande will visit the island May 11 in what will be the first trip by a French head of state to Cuba.

This latest round is due to tackle the sensitive human rights dossier.
It is part of an effort to move past more than a decade of disagreements and sanctions against Havana.

“Our agenda is focused on cooperation with the ambition to start dealing with the two other major topics — trade and political dialogue — and set the stage for the next steps,” a European diplomat said in Spanish.

“We are negotiating a framework agreement, providing a legal frameworks for dialogue, cooperation and exchanges, including on governance and human rights,” he added, requesting anonymity.

The talks will be led by European chief negotiator Christian Leffler and Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno. The pair headed the two previous rounds in Brussels in August and in Havana in April.

It will be the first meeting between the politico-economic bloc and Havana since the United States and Cuba surprised the world by announcing in December that they would restore relations after half a century of enmity.

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