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Ukraine crisis casts shadow over start of EU talks with Cuba

Published on May 1, 2014 11:10 AM
Pro-Russian armed men in military fatigues stand guard outside a regional administration building seized in the night by pro-Russian separatists, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Konstantinovka, on April 28, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

HAVANA (Reuters) - The European Union told Cuba on Wednesday it disagreed with its support of Russia in the Ukraine crisis as the dispute cast a shadow over talks aimed at improving relations between the communist-run island and European countries.

"It's a point of great concern to the EU," the EU's chief negotiator in the talks Christian Leffler told reporters in Havana.

Negotiators for the 28-nation bloc and Cuba met on Tuesday and Wednesday in Havana for a first round of talks. Only the European side spoke about the meetings afterward. Mr Leffler said the differences over Ukraine did not affect the talks but were an example of what would be discussed in future discussions.

Speaking hours before the first meeting, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez publicly criticised the European Union and the United States for imposing sanctions on a number of Russian officials. "Cuba energetically rejects the imposition of sanctions against Russia, knowing that those who impose them are the same governments that have launched wars of conquests that intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign countries and provoke the destabilisation of governments that don't go along with their interests of domination," Mr Rodriguez said in an appearance with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was in Havana.

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