Saturday, May 23, 2015

US, Cuba close round of talks with no embassy announcement

US, Cuba close round of talks with no embassy announcement
Associated Press

The United States and Cuba still have no agreement on re-establishing

Five months after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced
their intention to improve ties, the former foes on Friday completed a
fourth round of negotiations without ironing out enough of the
differences that have accumulated over a half-century of estrangement to
restore diplomatic relations.

However, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson,
insisted the two sides were "much closer" to that goal after a "highly
productive" session.

Cuba said the talks would continue, but gave no date for a future next
round. Jacobson said another high-profile gathering might not be necessary.

Appearing first in back-to-back news conferences, the communist
government's top diplomat for the United States, Josefina Vidal, was
circumspect. She avoided any description of the remaining obstacles to
restoring diplomatic relations and offered no criticism of the United
States, but said two days of discussions in Washington focused on "every
aspect of the functioning of embassies and the behavior of diplomats."

Even as many of the biggest hurdles have been cleared, Washington and
Havana are still wrangling over American demands that its diplomats be
able to travel throughout Cuba and meet dissidents without restrictions.
The Cubans are wary of activity they see as destabilizing to their

"We are confident that when we get to an agreement, our embassy will be
able to function so that our officers can do their job as they do
worldwide," a similarly careful Jacobson responded when asked about the

Cuba comes off the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list on May 29,
removing a designation that carries financial repercussions. And its
Interests Section in Washington now has a U.S.-based bank account,
meaning it doesn't have to operate on cash anymore. Obama also has moved
to significantly loosen the American trade embargo on the island.

U.S. gains have been less apparent.

Both the U.S. and Cuba say the embassies are a first step in a larger
process of "normalizing" relations. That effort would still have to
tackle bigger questions such as the embargo, which only Congress can
fully revoke, as well as the future of Guantanamo Bay and Cuba's
democracy record.

Source: US, Cuba close round of talks with no embassy announcement |
Miami Herald Miami Herald -

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