Page last updated at 21:37 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 22:37 UK

Cuba 'accepts dialogue' with EU

Cuba's President Raul Castro pictured 13 June
The lifting of sanctions against Cuba was seen as a success for Raul Castro

Cuba has conditionally accepted the resumption of formal political dialogue with the European Union.

The offer was made by the EU in June when sanctions were lifted against the Communist-run island state.

The Cuban foreign ministry said it would accept the proposal "once the foundations and bases are established by joint agreement", Reuters reported.

Havana's response came in a letter sent this month to the EU headquarters in Brussels, the agency reported.

The EU has been trying to re-establish a full political dialogue with Havana ever since Fidel Castro effectively stepped down due to ill-health in July 2006, correspondents say.

EU sanctions were imposed on Cuba in 2003 to protest against the Castro government's imprisonment of more than 70 political dissidents.

The lifting of the sanctions earlier this year was seen by analysts as a success for the government of Raul Castro.

He officially replaced his ailing elder brother as president after National Assembly elections in February.

At the time, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the 27-nation bloc wanted to promote change in Cuba.

The decades-old US trade embargo against Cuba remains in place.

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