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  • Spain's Science, Innovation and Universities Minister Pedro Duque in Havanna, July 8, 2019.

    Spain's Science, Innovation and Universities Minister Pedro Duque in Havanna, July 8, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 July 2019

University exchanges between both countries are expected to be more frecuent and planned at the government level.

Spain's Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities Pedro Duque and Cuba's Minister of Higher Education Jose Ramon Saborido signed Monday a framework agreement for cooperation in Havana.

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This instrument's purpose is to increase the number of scholarships to pursue doctoral studies in Spain and set an exchange program for students, professors and scientists between both countries.

With the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for educational and scientific collaboration, university exchanges between Spain and Cuba are expected to be planned at the government level because those have occurred thanks to the work of the universities but in a non-systematic way so far.

"First we have this general framework and then we will have to complement it with more concrete agreements, for example joint doctorates, which have been done so far in a punctual and non-systematic way," Saborido pointed out.

Minister Duque's visit began early Monday with a meeting with Higher Education Vice President, Miriam Alpiza.

Later, he met with rectors of the main Cuban universities and toured the University of Havana. There Duque, who was the second Spaniard to reach outer space in 1998, had a pleasant conversation with former astronaut Arnaldo Tamayo, a Cuban general who became the first person of African heritage to travel to space in 1980.

The science and technology MoU is the result of the approach that Spain and Cuba have been developing since Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived on the island in 2018. The official visit by the King of Spain is also expected later this year as part of this strategy of diplomatic ​​​​​​​friendship.​​​​​​​

Spain is currently Cuba's third largest trade partner and both maintain strong cultural ties. Spanish-Cuban annual bilateral commerce is already around US$1.3 billion. The tourism sector is dominated by alliances between Spanish hotel chains and Cuban companies.

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