Sunday, June 28, 2015

US Sen. Leahy sees 'positive change,' work to do in Cuba

US Sen. Leahy sees 'positive change,' work to do in Cuba
The Associated Press

A leading U.S. Democratic senator said Saturday that Cuba is making
progress on reform, but much remains to be done, including opening a
U.S. embassy in the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was leading a bipartisan delegation to the
island to meet with top government officials, business leaders,
diplomats and Cuban citizens to measure the pace of economic and social
change, and to determine the status of talks on detente more than five
decades after ties were broken off.

"I see a new, very positive change in Cuba," Leahy said during a news
conference at a hotel in central Havana. "Obviously we still have
differences, but I look forward to the United States being able to have
a real embassy here."

Since the late 1970s, the United States and Cuba have operated
diplomatic missions called interests sections in each other's capitals.
The missions are technically under the protection of Switzerland, and do
not enjoy the same status as full embassies.

The two countries have been negotiating the reestablishment of embassies
following the Dec. 17 announcement that they would move to restore ties,
but six months later no agreement has been reached.

Nor was there an embassy announcement on Saturday, although Leahy and
the other two members of the delegation, Republican Sen. Dean Heller of
Nevada and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, said they were
confident it will happen in the near future.

They met Friday with Cuba's first vice president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and
other officials, but did not elaborate on the content of their discussions.

Cardin said the delegation made clear to Cuban officials that the path
to normalization must include dealing with thorny issues where the U.S.
and Cuba have serious disagreements, such as human rights.

"For normal relations to move down a productive path, it's critically
important for Cuba to recognize that it is out of step today with
international human rights issues," Cardin said.

The senators were scheduled to visit the eastern city of Santiago before
returning to the United States.

Source: US Sen. Leahy sees 'positive change,' work to do in Cuba | Miami
Herald Miami Herald -

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