June 19, 2008

EU Set to Lift Sanctions Against Cuba

The European Union is set to take the largely symbolic action of lifting sanctions on Cuba, officials said.

The sanctions were imposed in 2003 in reaction to the jailing of about 70 dissidents, but were suspended, though not entirely removed, two years later.

After the first day of an EU summit in Brussels, EU External Relations Commissioner made the announcement, the BBC reported.

The plan to lift the sanctions is in defiance of U.S. policy. A decades-old U.S. trade embargo remains.

The BBC said since Raul Castro took over from his ailing brother Fidel Castro, Spain has been urging the removal of the sanctions to spur reform, but countries like Sweden and the Czech Republic believe any reforms are superficial.

Another factor -- Cuban allies Venezuela and China are important EU trading partners, the report said.