Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cuba, United States to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and other crimes

Cuba, United States to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and other crimes
By Marc Frank | HAVANA

Cuba and the United States on Monday signed an agreement to cooperate in
the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and
other international criminal activities on the eve of President-elect
Donald Trump's inauguration.

President Barack Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes,
who helped negotiate the normalization of relations between the two
countries begun two years ago, was present for the signing, according to
the White House.

A brief statement said Rhodes was in Cuba for "official meetings,
cultural engagements, and to witness the signing of a U.S.-Cuba Law
Enforcement Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)."

Trump, who takes office on Friday, has threatened to scrap a
still-fragile detente between the two countries unless Cuba makes
further political and economic concessions.

Trump is expected to review Cuba policy upon taking office and has named
Jason Greenblatt, a Trump Organization executive and chief legal
counsel, as negotiator for sensitive international issues, including Cuba.

"The arrangement will establish a framework for strengthening our
partnership on counternarcotics, counterterrorism, legal cooperation,
and money laundering, including technical exchanges that contribute to a
strong U.S.-Cuba law enforcement relationship," the White House
statement said.

The signing was not open to the press, however Reuters has seen a copy
of the agreement, signed by U.S. Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

The two countries on Thursday announced a deal to cooperate on
immigration issues and put an end to a 20-year-old policy that gave
entry to Cubans without visas if they set foot on U.S. soil.

Obama has used his executive powers to improve relations and punch holes
in the U.S. trade embargo, which can only be lifted by Congress. The
deals and orders can be reversed by Trump.

Eighteen cooperation accords have been inked to date, ranging from
postal services and science to protecting the environment and healthcare

There has been initial discussion over more difficult issues such as
U.S. nationalization compensation claims, Cuba's demand for embargo
reparations, extraditing fugitives and the return of the Guantanamo
Naval Base to Cuba.

Travel to the communist-run Caribbean island from the United States has
increased, with the start of direct flights and cruises and cellphone
roaming agreements signed, but there have been no manufacturing or major
trade deals inked.

(In eighth paragraph, changes day of immigration accord to Thursday)

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: Cuba, United States to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and
other crimes | Reuters -

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