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2 May, 2019 10:15

‘Contrary to intl law’: Mogherini slams US ‘full activation’ of Cuba embargo law, vows counter steps

‘Contrary to intl law’: Mogherini slams US ‘full activation’ of Cuba embargo law, vows counter steps

Full implementation of US embargo law on Cuba is illegal under international law, the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said as she promised retaliatory measures amidst yet another row between Brussels and Washington.

The “full activation” of US embargo legislation against Cuba is “contrary to international law” and goes against the previous US-EU agreements, Mogherini said on Thursday, promising to apply “all appropriate measures” to defend European interests.

On May 2, the Trump administration did not renew the decades-old suspension of the Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, also known as Libertad Act, which regulates the embargo on foreign trade with Cuba. The provision allows US citizens to sue foreign companies profiting from properties which Cuba confiscated or nationalized after the 1959 revolution.

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EU officials fear that this will hit European firms. Last month, Mogherini and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom reportedly penned a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in which they warned that the EU may launch a WTO case against Washington should its actions damage European trade.

In her statement on Thursday, the EU foreign affairs chief reiterated that enforcing the US embargo law against European companies “will cause unnecessary friction and undermines trust and predictability in the transatlantic partnership.”

EU nations began grappling to shield its companies from US sanctions last year when Washington re-imposed sweeping restrictions on Tehran. Senior officials in Brussels, as well as in Britain, France, and Germany, condemned the move and vowed to create mechanisms to protect firms “engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”

Relations between the EU and Washington were further strained after Donald Trump imposed tariffs on a number of European goods. The US also tried to pressure Germany to scrap the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a major joint energy project with Russia. Berlin pushed back against the pressure, saying that the deal with Moscow will not undermine European interests.

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