HAVANA – Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and his Portuguese counterpart, Augusto Santos, met on Monday in Havana to work to forge closer bilateral relations.
Santos, who is on his first official visit to the communist island, emphasized the potential for cooperation between the two countries, according to local press reports.
He told Rodriguez that both countries, similar in size and population, share common traditions and constitute a bridge among several continents and regions of the world.
Santos said that for years his nation had benefitted from cooperation with Cuba, especially in the health sector, and he praised the island’s progress in that area.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez urged expanding the exchange of views between the two foreign ministries and boosting cultural, scientific and academic relations, along with medical services and Portuguese tourism to Cuba.
Rodriguez said that Cuban-Portuguese relations are marked by a “fluid and cordial” exchange of views, adding that he wanted to expand trade and investment links.
He also thanked Lisbon for its solidarity in demanding the elimination of the U.S. economic embargo on the island and called Portugal’s role in Cuba’s negotiations with the European Union “positive.”
After the meeting, the two men signed a memorandum of understanding confirming their countries’ mutual interest in expanding cooperation between their top diplomatic institutions and promoting exchanges to develop their human resources.
Portuguese exports to Cuba in 2015 grew more than 30 percent over 2014, and they increased 10 percent during this year’s first quarter compared with the same quarter last year, according to figures provided by Portugal’s embassy on the island.