Tags: Castro-Cuba | cuba | negotiations | embassy | trade | human rights

'Profound Differences' Mark First Round of US-Cuba Talks

By    |   Friday, 23 January 2015 08:57 AM

The takeaway from the first round of diplomatic talks between the United States and Cuba in 38 years was that "profound differences" remain between the two nations, according to The Washington Post.

"What you have to recognize is that we have ... to overcome more than 50 years of a relationship that was not based on confidence or trust," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said after the first session, held in Havana.

Josefina Vidal of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry told the press that the talks were "respectful, professional and constructive climate," while warning that Havana would not allow the U.S. to have any say in its internal affairs, according to Reuters.

"This process is about the establishment of civilized relations between two countries with profound differences," Vidal said.

The meeting was the first since President Barack Obama’s Dec. 17 speech announcing the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, a deal that included a prisoner exchange, the easing of restrictions on commerce, transportation and banking, and re-opening respective embassies.

Obama promised that the issue of human rights would be raised. After the morning session, Jacobson said the issue was raised while Vidal insisted it was not. After the second session, Cuba said the subject was discussed during talks of "a host of bilateral issues, when Cuba expressed concern over human rights in the United States," according to Reuters.

Referencing the recent killings of two unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, the Cuban delegation reportedly expressed concern over human rights in the United States.

Cuba also wants a "complete lifting" of the 1960 U.S. embargo, something Vidal said was "essential" for the nations to move forward.

The island nation is especially prickly about being included on the State Department's list of four countries that sponsor terrorism — it has been on that list for 32 years — and wants to be removed from it.

According to the Post, Obama can do so if he determines that Cuba has not engaged in terrorism in the recent past and is unlikely to do so in the future.

At his request, the State Department is reviewing Cuba’s status and will provide a recommendation. The other countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

At the conclusion of the meetings, both countries said they would schedule a future meeting to continue the talks.

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The takeaway from the first round of diplomatic talks between the United States and Cuba in 38 years was that "profound differences" remain between the two nations, according to The Washington Post.
cuba, negotiations, embassy, trade, human rights
399
2015-57-23
Friday, 23 January 2015 08:57 AM
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