Photo EFE

Photo EFE

HAVANA,  July  17  (EFE) The foreign ministers of Germany and Cuba on Thursday in this capital signed two agreements to establish the basis for political and economic cooperation, along with cultural exchanges.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Bruno Rodriguez at the beginning of an official visit that is the first by a German foreign minister to the communist island.

“It’s an historic moment that we’re experiencing now,” said the German minister, who also emphasized the “process of transformation” begun by Cuba and which, in his judgment, is going “in the right direction.”

He recalled that, in the past, bilateral relations were marked by “distance, silence and great differences.”

At their meeting, the ministers discussed the basis for relaunching the bilateral relationship and creating mechanisms of cooperation that, to date, the two nations did not have, placing special emphasis on scientific, cultural and sports exchange.

They also agreed that, during the second half of the year, Havana and Berlin will definitively negotiate the cultural agreement and also the conditions under which Germany may establish a trade office on the island.

Besides his meeting with Rodriguez, Steinmeier is scheduled to meet with Culture Minister Julian Gonzalez and with Cuba’s Catholic primate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, as well as with representatives of civil society.

Steinmeier traveled to Havana along with a small delegation of business executives.

Cuba occupies only a very modest position among Germany’s trade interests, given that it is in 101st place among the nations Berlin exports to and in 125th place among the nations the European nation imports from.

Steinmeier’s visit comes just days before the scheduled reopening of the U.S. and Cuban embassies in Havana and Washington, an event set to take place next Monday.