HAVANA TIMES — The delegations of Cuba and the United States will meet on Monday in Havana for a new round of negotiations following the diplomatic thaw last December, announced the US State Department today, reported dpa.
Roberta Jacobson, assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will travel on Sunday to Havana, where she is scheduled to meet with Josefina Vidal, director of United States Affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, who will head the Cuban delegation.
The top US official for Latin American will travel to the island on Sunday, but “talks begin on Monday,” said a senior State Department official who requested anonymity.
The source explained that they did not yet know how long this new round of negotiations will last, but said it is likely that Jacobson returns to the US “by midweek”.
This is the third round of negotiations, following a first contact between the two delegations held in January in Havana and a meeting in late February in Washington.
As happened in the second round of negotiations, the agenda of the meeting will focus on the restoration of bilateral relations broken off by the US in 1961 and the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana.
Washington has already expressed its desire to make it happen in time for the Summit of the Americas, to be held on April 10-11 in Panama and which is expected to involve President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. However, there is still no date on when they would open embassies.
In the absence of direct diplomatic relations, “Interests Sections” in their respective capitals allows the two governments to fulfill consular services and continue the few bilateral relations that existed until the December agreement, for example, on migration. Their staff, however, operate under serious restrictions of action and movement in their respective territories.
The US wants to separate negotiations to reopen embassies from the process of reviewing the list of countries it accuses of sponsoring terrorism, compiled by the State Department and which has included Cuba since 1982.
Before the February meeting, Havana demanded being taken off the US “blacklist” as a prerequisite for the restoration of bilateral diplomatic relations.
The meeting in Washington served to soften the Cuban position. Vidal then explained that “is not a precondition” but that for Cuba being taken off the list is “a priority”.
Obama and Castro announced on December 17, 2014, their decision to resume bilateral relations after half a century of confrontation between the two countries.