Authorities of the European Union and Cuba are actively working to start official negotiations on a political dialogue and cooperation agreement, EU sources said Tuesday.

"Both parties are proposing dates, not as a question of tactics but simply of scheduling," one source said about the timing of the formal startup of talks.

EU foreign ministers approved Feb. 10 the mandate to begin negotiating the first framework accord with Cuba.

"That same day the EU sent a formal invitation saying that we are prepared to negotiate. They took awhile to answer (March 6), but that's normal since they had to consult different government departments," an EU official said.

The decision has been taken by consensus to hold the first round of talks in Havana.

The EU and Cuba hope to hold a round of discussions every two months, between which they will maintain informal contacts, the EU foreign service's top official for the Americas, Christian Leffler, said in an appearance before the European Parliament.

The European authority recalled that the goal of the accord that the EU seeks with Cuba "is not fundamentally" to change its policy toward the island, which will retain its existing objectives of defending and promoting human rights and encouraging democratic changes, but to find a different "focus."

The negotiation of the agreement will take place, in any case, with the "common position" in effect, the unilateral and restrictive policy that has governed EU relations with Havana since 1996. EFE