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'Cuba Libre' slips off the cocktail list at Havana's EU missions

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'Cuba Libre' slips off the cocktail list at Havana's EU missions

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An attempt to re-float diplomatic relations with President Castro’s Cuba will mean fewer cocktail guests at National Day receptions at EU member states’ embassies in Havana.

The bloc’s foreign ministers will be asked in January to agree to scale down the parties to end a stand-off over invitations to Cuban dissidents which led the communist government to cut virtually all contact with European diplomats. The recommendation by a working group of national experts on Latin America policy came after Cuba freed 14 out of 75 dissidents arrested last year and hinted that more releases are on the way. However, a veteran human rights activist noted at the time the prisoners were granted parole on health grounds, not pardons. Cuba’s largest trade and investment partner, the EU insists it will keep up pressure on the one-party state to allow more pluralist opposition. Spain’s Socialist government last month took the lead in seeking a review of EU policy, keen to develop more constructive relations with Havana.