Saturday, May 23, 2015

U.S. and Cuban Negotiators Can’t Quite Seal a Deal

U.S. and Cuban Negotiators Can't Quite Seal a Deal

WASHINGTON — Despite a wave of optimism, United States and Cuban
negotiators this week failed to reach an accord on re-establishing
diplomatic ties that had been fractured during the Cold War, United
States and Cuban officials said on Friday.

But Roberta Jacobson, the top State Department official for Latin
America, asserted that the two days of talks here had been "highly
productive" and that the remaining differences could be resolved without
another high-level negotiating session.

"I don't know that we will need another round," she told reporters. "I
think at this point this is likely to be the kind of thing that can be
hammered out using our diplomatic missions."

Both sides declined to describe the remaining obstacles. But the United
States has insisted on its diplomats having the freedom to travel and to
speak openly to people, which Cuba often regards as a means to stir up
dissidents. The Americans have wanted guarantees that Cubans visiting
the embassy would not be harassed by police officers guarding it.
Senior diplomats for the United States and Cuba, Roberta S. Jacobson and
Josefina Vidal, announced the end of another round of talks on the
restoration of diplomatic relations. By Reuters on Publish Date May 22,
2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters.
Even so, Ms. Jacobson acknowledged in congressional testimony earlier
this week that if a United States embassy is opened in Havana, American
diplomats would most likely be required to provide advance notification
of their travel within the country, as they do with other nations that
are controlled by authoritarian governments. That was a point she hinted
at again on Friday.

"There are a range of ways in which our embassies operate around the
world in different countries," she said. "We expect that in Cuba, our
embassy will operate within that range. It won't be unique. It won't be
anything that doesn't exist elsewhere in the world."

The Cuba government has objected to journalist training programs
conducted by the United States interest section in Havana. Asked if the
United States would be willing to coordinate those courses with the
Cuban government, Ms. Jacobson said she could not discuss the details.

Josefina Vidal, who serves as Cuba's director of North American affairs,
said in a separate news conference that the talks had been "respectful
and professional," but she was similarly reticent about the details.

"We exchanged views on every aspect related to the functioning of the
embassies and the behavior of diplomats," she said.

Cuba had been slow to agree to full diplomatic relations until it found
a bank willing to handle its accounts at a diplomatic mission in the
United States and until it was removed from the American government's
list of states that sponsor international terrorism. This week, American
officials said Cuba had found a bank, and next week it officially comes
off the list. President Obama issued that order last month, but there
was a 45-day review period before it could take effect.

Michael R. Gordon reported from Washington, and Randal C. Archibold from
Mexico City.

Source: U.S. and Cuban Negotiators Can't Quite Seal a Deal -

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