HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Interests Section in Washington has finally found a bank, overcoming another obstacle to the resumption of bilateral relations with the United States, according to sources with the State Department, reported dpa.
The source declined to specify the name of the bank where the Cuban delegation will have their accounts, because they felt that it corresponds to the Cuban government and the bank to make the announcement.
“I can’t tell you which bank it is. That’s an agreement between the Cubans and the bank, and probably that’s for them to do or the bank. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to be making a public announcement of that shortly,” said the State Department official.
The Cuban Interests Section, which is expected to become the island’s embassy, currently has no bank accounts because of the difficulties arising from the US economic embargo. The delegation had bank accounts previously with the banker, M & T, which closed them out last year.
Since then they could not find a bank to manage their accounts to ensure normal operation and to provide full consular services. This forced them to operate with cash.
In the absence of direct diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States have maintained Interests Sections in their respective capitals since the late 1970s, allowing them to carry out consular services. Both countries diplomats are under strict internal travel restrictions.
On Thursday the delegations of Cuba and the United States will meet in Washington for the fourth round of negotiations for the resumption of bilateral relations, a process began on December 17 by Presidents Obama and Castro.
For now, no date has been set for the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana, but the State Department official expressed optimism that this could happen soon. “I think we’re closer than we’ve been in the past,” added the official.
In the negotiations over bilateral relations, the government of Raul Castro demands that Washington take Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism and make possible normal banking for the Cuban Interests Section.
Castro said last week that the two countries could appoint ambassadors soon after the end of May, when Cuba is formally removed from the terrorism list.
US President Barack Obama announced in mid-April that his administration will remove the socialist island from the “black list” where it has been since 1982, as a step towards better relations.
The measure takes effect 45 days after announced. The same State Department source said that although the May 29, the 45th day since the announcement, to take effect it must first be published in the “Federal Register” which could happen a day or two later.
The US decision to remove Cuba from the list came just days after Obama held a historic meeting with Castro in the framework of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. It was the first meeting at this level between the two countries in more than 50 years.