By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – The process of restoring diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States moved forward on Friday with the second round of talks towards the goal of opening embassies in the respective capitals in the not too distant future.
Once again the delegations were both headed by the same female diplomats who met in Havana a month earlier: the top Cuban negotiator was Josefina Vidal chief of the North American desk of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, and for the USA, Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
While many other issues will be on the table in future talks (extradition treaty, Cuban Adjustment Act, the US embargo, the Guantanamo Naval Base, human rights, property expropriations, etc.) there seems to be agreement that the official restoring of relations and the opening of embassies is the first order of business. This with an eye to making considerable progress before the Summit of the Americas on April 10-11 in Panama, when presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama will be on the same venue.
Parralel to that, Cuba continues to press that it be taken off the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism and the US State Department says it is reviewing the designation to make a recommendation to Congress.
The following is the press release issued by the Cuban Delegation following the talks on Friday.
Press release issued by the Cuban delegation to the round of talks on the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States. Washington, February 27, 2015.
On February 27, 2015, a new round of talks was held between the delegations of Cuba and the United States on the process of formalization of the resumption of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies, which was announced by Presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama, on December 17, 2014.
The Cuban delegation was headed by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director General of the US Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the US delegation was headed by Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. The meeting took place in a professional, respectful and constructive environment.
The Cuban representatives reiterated the importance of solving a series of issues, which will allow for the creation of the appropriate context to resume diplomatic relations and open embassies in both capitals, in particular, Cuba’s removal from the list of “States sponsor of international terrorism” and the provision of financial services to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington which, for more than one year, has been unable to find a bank willing to handle its financial transactions due to the blockade laws and Cuba’s designation as a country that sponsors international terrorism.
Likewise, the Cuban delegation insisted on the need to ensure compliance with the principles of International Law and the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, which should be the basis of our future diplomatic relations and the work of our respective embassies. Special emphasis was made on the observance of the norms governing the functions of diplomatic missions, the behavior of diplomatic staff, compliance with national laws and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
Besides, both delegations worked through the details about the visits and bilateral technical meetings to take place in the next few weeks on issues such as trafficking in persons, civil aviation, telecommunications, human rights, marine protected areas, prevention of migration fraud and changes in the regulations modifying the implementation of the blockade.
During the exchange, the Cuban delegation ratified its willingness to continue the dialogue and make progress in the relations between Cuba and the United States based on respect, sovereign equality and reciprocity.