British FM visits Cuba for 1st time since 1959

Updated: 2016-04-29 10:42


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British FM visits Cuba for 1st time since 1959

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond talks to the media at the foreign ministry in Havana, Cuba, April 28, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday became the country's first foreign secretary to visit Cuba in more than half a century, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.

Hammond, who is visiting Latin America, will meet his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez and other government leaders to discuss the recent social and economic changes in Cuba, the FCO said in a statement.

During the visit, Hammond is expected to sign a bilateral agreement restructuring Cuba's debt to Britain and cement future UK-Cuba cooperation on financial services, energy, culture and education.

In the statement, Hammond said "Britain and Cuba have outlooks on the world and systems of government that are very different," but he is "looking forward to demonstrating to the Cuban government and people that the UK is keen to forge new links across the Atlantic."

"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," he said.

Hammond's visit came a month after Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years.