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Philip Hammond becomes first British Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba since 1959

Philip Hammond has become the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba since before the communist revolution of 1959.

Arriving in the capital Havana, Mr Hammond said that Britain was keen to forge "new links" with the Caribbean nation.

His visit follows US President Barak Obama's historic visit last month intended to normalise relations between the two countries after decades of hostility.

Mr Hammond will hold a series of high-level meetings to discuss recent social and economic changes, human rights and the fight against global health threats such as the Zika virus.

He will also sign a bilateral agreement restructuring Cuba's debt to the UK, as well as agreeing future co-operation on financial services, energy, culture and education.

"Britain and Cuba have outlooks on the world and systems of government that are very different," Mr Hammond said.

"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.

"That is why Cuba and the UK are set to reach new cooperation agreements on energy, financial services, education and culture, to the benefit of both our nations.

"As the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Cuba since before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, this is an opportunity to hear for myself what Cuba thinks about its present challenges and where it sees its future."


From Belfast Telegraph