German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has ended his first visit to Cuba with signed agreements to develop further cultural and economic ties. A small delegation of business executives accompanied the him.
"I have the impression that ... also in Cuba new things are happening," Steinmeier said on Friday.
Steinmeier signed a series of agreements with the Cuban government during his 33-hour visit to the Caribbean island nation, including a joint declaration on cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Political Consultation Mechanism.
Following Steinmeier's meeting on Thursday with President Raul Castro (photo), there are to be further discussions later in the year on a cultural agreement and conditions under which Germany could establish a trade office on the island.
Steinmeier said he had raised the issue of human rights during his conversation with Castro. "We continue to hold different points of view in realtion to democracy and human rights," Steinmeier said.
The minister traveled with a small delegation of German business executives.
Cuba is currently number 101 on the list of countries to which Germany exports. For imports into Germany, Cuba is 125th on Berlin's list.
Steinmeier also met with his Cuban counterpart, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Culture Minister Julian Gonzalez and Cuba's Catholic prelate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
On Friday, he visited an eco-gardening project and met with Paralympic athletes equipped with prostheses made in Germany:
The last visit by a representative of the federal government of Germany to Cuba was in 2001, during the coalition government led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
As part of their program of renewing ties, the United States and Cuba will re-open embassies in Havana and Washington on Monday after nearly 50 years of dispute.
jm/kms (EFE, dpa)