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UPDATED: 13:40, July 26, 2004
Mexico, Cuba restore full diplomatic ties with ambassadors returning to posts
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Mexico and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations on Sunday with their ambassadors returning to their posts, thus marking the end of a diplomatic crisis that erupted between the two countries in May.

Before leaving for the Cuban capital of Havana, Mexican Ambassador Roberta Lajous said she was happy to work in Cuba againand the priority of her mission was to promote the bilateral ties.

"Ambassador Lajous will promote the strengthening of relations between Mexico and Cuba, through a frank and direct dialogue," Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said in a statement.

The two countries "have agreed to keep working on all areas of the bilateral relationship, and maintain smooth diplomatic communication," the statement added.

"I always believed in the close historical and traditional tiesbetween our two peoples," Cuban Ambassador Jorge Bolanos said uponarrival at Mexico City's airport.

"I am extremely happy to return to Mexico, after a brief and involuntary absence ... Cuba and Mexico are two nations that geography made neighbors, and that our histories and heroes, both Cuban and Mexican, have united forever," he added.

The exchange of ambassadors came one week after Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and his Mexican counterpart, Luis Ernesto Derbez, met in Havana over the bilateral relations.

Both ministers said the two countries still had issues to work out, but they were back on the road to reconciliation.

Traditionally, Mexico and Cuba have good relations. Even duringthe four decades of economic embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba, Mexico maintained diplomatic ties with the island and provided aid to it.

However, the two countries had disagreed on the issues of democracy and human rights after Mexican President Vicente Fox took office in 2000.

In March, the Mexican government charged that Cuba intervened in its internal affairs over the issue relating to Carlos Ahumada,a Mexican businessman arrested in Cuba.

Then in April, Mexico voted in favor of a resolution against Cuba at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission, to the strongopposition of the island country. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, during a May Day speech, condemned Mexico for the vote.

On May 2, the Mexican government recalled its ambassador from Cuba and asked the Cuban ambassador to leave the country, causing the two countries' relations to be at the lowest ebb in the past 100 years.

Source: Xinhua

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