Spain tells Cuban dissident EU won't soften stance toward Havana

Madrid, Mar 13 (EFE).- Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on Wednesday assured the leader of the Cuban dissident movement Ladies in White that the European Union will maintain its tough "common position" toward the regime in Havana.

That is what Berta Soler told Efe after meeting Wednesday with Garcia-Margallo, to whom she expressed her concern that the common position was "weakening."

The foreign minister assured her that the common position "will continued to be maintained until in Cuba" there is official respect for human rights and democracy is installed, Soler said.

Garcia-Margallo offered Spain's help in a "transition" to democracy in Cuba, drawing on the Iberian nation's return to representative government after the 1975 death of dictator Francisco Franco, the dissident said.

The leader of the Ladies in White, who arrived in Madrid on Tuesday, on Wednesday visited Parliament where she briefly met with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

She also met with the speaker of the lower house, Jesus Posada, and with the spokesmen for the political parties.

The common position, agreed to by the EU in 1996, establishes that the level of European cooperation with Cuba will depend on the advances that country makes in democracy and political openness.

On her first trip outside Cuba, Soler, who supports the maintenance of the U.S. embargo against the Communist island, is denouncing repression in her country and asking for an increase in international pressure on the Castro regime.