Cuba-USA Agree on Agenda for Future Talks

The Cuban delegation to the talks held Friday in Havana, led by diplomat Josefina Vidal. Photo: minrex

HAVANA TIMES — The governments of Cuba and the United States agreed today on an agenda of issues to address in the coming months to try to “normalize” relations after resuming full diplomatic ties in mid-July.

The first meeting of the bilateral commission took place Friday in Havana agreed upon on August 14, when the United States formally reopened its embassy on the island. The commission opened a permanent mechanism for bilateral dialogue, whose second meeting is scheduled for November in Washington.

Today’s meeting was led by Josefina Vidal, for the Cuban side, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State, Edward Alex Lee, for the USA. Vidal was the diplomat who led the talks in the first half of the year with the United States to reopen embassies.

“We managed to define a bilateral agenda that will start running from next week,” Vidal said after the meeting. The agenda includes a first section of issues of mutual concern and cooperation, said Vidal, director of US affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

“The delegations agreed on the functions and scope of work of the bilateral commission, and the frequency of future meetings,” noted Cuba in a statement.

The US delegation to the talks in Havana was led by Alex Lee, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for South America and Cuba Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Photo: Cubaminrex

According to Vidal, the agenda includes a second section of issues where the countries have differences, such as those related to human rights.

In a third group, the delegations plan to discuss the mutual demands for financial compensation, one of the thorniest issues in bilateral relations.

“We have decided to include on the agenda of the next few months the discussion on the issue of compensation,” said Vidal. “There are claims for compensation from Cuba for economic and human damage, and there are claims by the US for properties nationalized after the triumph of the Revolution (in 1959),” she added.

The Cuban delegation also mentioned the “search for solutions” to those “outstanding issues” in its statement. “It is a highly complicated issue,” said Vidal.

Among the areas where both parties see opportunities for cooperation are the protection of the environment, natural disaster prevention and the fight against drug trafficking.

Despite the historic thaw announced in December 2014 and the resumption of diplomatic relations from July 20 this year, both countries have repeatedly stated that they still maintain “profound differences”.

The United States has said it will continue criticizing the situation of civil liberties on the socialist island. In addition to calling for an end to the economic and trade embargo that the US government imposes since the 1960s, Cuba demands the return of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.


30 thoughts on “Cuba-USA Agree on Agenda for Future Talks

  • September 16, 2015 at 7:16 am
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    The “fear” is not what Americans will see. American tourists are among the biggest spending tourists in the world. The US government knows full well that unlimited US tourism will breathe new life into the failed Castro regime and prolong the tyranny. By limiting tourism, the Castros have access to fewer resources to spend to repress the Cuban people.

  • September 16, 2015 at 7:11 am
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    What is your definition of socialism/communism? Please cite your source.

  • September 16, 2015 at 7:09 am
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    The Castros’ $1 trillion figure is ridiculous. I am not surprised, however, that you would accept anything that the Castros say at face value. They should be happy to have our remittances and tourist revenues and leave it at that.

  • September 16, 2015 at 7:04 am
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    You have no idea what I read. What I have NOT read is your sources corroborating your definition of socialism. Please cite even one other legitimate source who agrees with you.

  • September 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm
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    You are a hopeless cause. Now you use the term “kidnap”? Detainees in Gitmo were enemy combatants. The word kidnap does not apply.

  • September 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm
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    You are correct. Raul Casro Ruz is currently playing to a mislead world audience who think that he is embracing change. There are some optical surface changes, but in reality nothing material is changing for Cubans. Raul has been an ardent communist since 1953 and his views have not changed. The Castro family regime is concerned about power and the retention of that power.

  • September 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm
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    One could respond by saying “rubbish”, but “drivel” is more appropriate.

  • September 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm
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    The US leases Guantanamo under the conditions of a legally binding agreement signed by the government of Cuba. Although the government of Cuba has changed, international law holds that successor government are still bound to international agreements agreed to by their predecessors. If Cuba wants to end the lease, and they do have the right to end it, the terms of the lease provide a mechanism: negotiations.

  • September 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm
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    nidal it would be wonderful if you could do that rather than as usual pursuing an irrelevant political world tour.

  • September 15, 2015 at 12:39 pm
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    The government of the USA is not afraid that its citizens will go to Cuba and see what lies they have been fed and favor the Cuban Revolution.
    The travel ban is to prevent U.S. tourist dollars from going to Cuban society.
    It is the purpose of the still-in-place embargo to impoverish the island to the point that the people will blame their own government for the problems and rise up and throw out their revolution.
    The reason the government of the USA does not fear its citizens will turn on them is because the government and corporate media have had the U.S. electorate brain-washed to think as negatively as they do about the Cuban Revolution they so long that it has become the overwhelming way of thinking for the dumbed-down American people.
    One quick visit to Cuba cannot erase 56 years of lies for tourists who would rather believe the comfortable lies of a lifetime .

  • September 15, 2015 at 12:31 pm
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    Making fun of Donald Trump also ridicules the older, white uneducated people who love him.
    He speaks for about 25% of the US electorate which operates on a 6th grade intellectual level and therefore his inane thinking has a solid measure of support .

  • September 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm
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    You might want to consider whether it is right or wrong for the strongest country in the world to hold territory in another much weaker country by force.
    If you think it is okay , then you are an imperialist.

  • September 15, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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    No idea!

  • September 15, 2015 at 12:22 pm
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    Torture is universally recognized as a crime.
    The U.S. government chooses to redefine water-boarding and other forms of torture that have long been acknowledged by international treaties to which the government of the U.S.A. is a signatory as NOT torture.
    This is analogous to the way some people have redefined communism to mean a totalitarian system to also suit their ends.
    Saying that the government of the USA is guilty of torture is analogous to the GOUSA charging Al Capone with tax evasion .
    It is the far lesser of the crimes committed .
    Moses cannot read anything that puts the lie to his crazy-right ideas but for those others who dare to challenge their belief that the U.S.G . is about doing good in the world, I would strongly suggest reading what is to be found at the “Killing Hope” website .
    It has 54 chapters detailing U.S. war crimes and crimes against humanity over some 50 years .

  • September 15, 2015 at 11:07 am
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    US kidnapped citizens of a faring nations and imprisoned them in Guantanamo , meaning the US have expanded the battlefield in to Cuba .

  • September 15, 2015 at 9:09 am
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    What “war crime” did the US government commit on Cuban soil? Do you know what a war crime is? The Statute of the International Criminal Court defines war crimes as, inter alia, “serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict” and “serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in an armed conflict not of an international character”.

  • September 15, 2015 at 8:24 am
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    So far, Obama has conceded to every demand from Castro without gaining anything in return. So I don’t expect him to give up much of a fight over Guantanamo.

  • September 15, 2015 at 7:39 am
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    Can we concentrate on Cuba .

  • September 15, 2015 at 6:36 am
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    Restricting Amercans’ right to travel to Cuba contravenes not only United Nations but also the US constitution.

    In the old days the Soviet Union used to restrict tourism to guided tours which they could control everything. It’s ironic that whilst Cuba allows free travel and tourism, the US now does exactly the same in Cuba. Why are they so scared of their own citizens travelling freely and seeing the country for themselves?

  • September 14, 2015 at 3:03 pm
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    CONGRATULATIONS nidal! You actually managed in your second paragraph to mention Cuba.. Did you believe him that average American education is to grade 6?
    You never did try to answer my previous question about the Arafat organised terrorists who carried out a succession of attacks on civil aircraft and also attacked the competitors at the Munich Olympics?
    To remind you nidal, the subject of the article above is setting an agenda for talks between the governments of Cuba and the US. I imagine that those representing Cuba will be politicians and/or negotiators – would they make good judges or merely reflect the views of the Castros who are proven to be: “Judge, jury and executioner.”
    Your response is to write about your dentist’s view of education in the US, Pearl harbour, Columbia (and to endeavor to infer that the government of Columbia is not democratically elected), a Canadian mining company intent like the Arabs in Syria upon destruction of historic sites, an imaginary Canadian concentration camp and a court of law to determine the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
    Where is the relevance? Do please explain!

  • September 13, 2015 at 10:21 pm
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    I was watching the movie Pearl Harbor, I couldn’t stop thinking that the Americans look at Pearl Harbor as if it was the second crucifixion of Jesus , one-sided argument in which everybody else is wrong and they’re right ,that’s the American way .
    Questions that I have to ask , since the United States government committed war crimes on Cuban soil , kidnapped imprisoned and tortured foreign nationals ? Will those victims off American aggression be able to use the Cuban legal system and file civil lawsuits against the Americans ? would any of the Americans who committed crimes in concentration camp Guantanamo get prosecuted and go to prison ?
    Since when politicians and negotiators make good judges ?
    As the saying goes Judge jury and executioner .
    Civil disputes in relation to properties should be left for a court of law , what I think should happen , both sides should agree on a legal format and that legal format will be used in dissolving disputes , this is what I have been imagining for Palestinian Israeli conflict .
    For those who mentioned the so called democratically elected government of Colombia , would that be by any chance the capitalist government that wants to destroy the second oldest Municipality in Colombia by turning it over to a Canadian mining Company who wants to bulldoze the entire city and mine for gold , is that the government who will put the interest of a foreign corporation over the interest of its own citizens , I wonder how much financial contributions in the name of capitalist democracy did the Canadian vulture mining company had to line up the pockets off politicians so they can have the way .
    A while back I was chatting with my dentist , he was telling me the story of his mom and dad meeting in the Canadian WW2 concentration camp / internment camp , somehow average American education levels came into the chat , as I was telling him that the average American is educated level is at the 9th grade , he snapped back at me with an upset tone of voice , and said that he was a member of the local school board , and the average American education level is at the sixth grade , this situation is in the richest country in the world , a free democracy supposedly . Sense the US government its not doing a good job of taking care of its own citizen I doubt they will do a good job of taking care of somebody else’s property .

  • September 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm
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    Michael Robinson will suffer from sleep deprivation with THAT work schedule.
    When do he SLEEP ?
    But I do agree with his premise. I think retirement and vacation condoms may well be a big industry in the tourist areas.

  • September 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm
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    How does a state capitalist economy equate to a communist economy in your thinking ?
    Are they the same thing in your mind ?
    Which “communist dogma” is Raul intent upon retaining. ?

  • September 13, 2015 at 4:51 pm
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    Negotiations over compensation for confiscated properties by Cuba and the cost to Cuba of the U.S. embargo should be interesting .
    The Cuban government is saying that the 54-year embargo has cost the Cuban people $US 1 trillion . The U.S./Cuban properties confiscated by the revolution will not come anywhere near that figure.

  • September 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm
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    The restricted air travel is entirely within the control of the US Government which chose to limit the freedom to travel of is own citizens. At the rate that international negotiations of this type usually proceed, Obama’s tenure as President will be over prior to any substantive results.
    Maybe President the Donald, will be in the White House when the time for celebration arrives. Assuming that he is not going to be a “loser”. The difficulty then will be that the Cubans speak Spanish and may be confused in his mind with Mexicans. On the other hand he may select Sarah Palin as his VP to assist him with her knowledge of international affairs.

  • September 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm
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    How high up on the agenda is the U.S.Base at Guantanamo Bay and when will the area be returned to Cuba and it’s people? or is it non negotiable?

  • September 12, 2015 at 11:21 pm
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    These discussions will have to establish a time scale, otherwise they could drag on endlessly like the FARC talks with the democratically elected Government of Columbia.
    The talks will have to be wound up prior to 2018 which promises to be a momentous year for Cuba. Raul Castro Ruz has committed himself to retiring as President that year and Maduro is very likely to lose the election due in Venezuela, despite his manipulations and use of the military.
    If one accepts that the old military generals – Valdes, Ventura et al will also move out of power, then the Government of Cuba will be led by the young “troika” of Diaz-Canel, Murillo and Rodriguez – all being under 60 (just).
    Those aware of Soviet history will recall that the USSR twice was ruled by troikas. The first after the death of Stalin which comprised Beria, Malenkov and Molotov, which then was succeeded by Krushchev. and the second when Krushchev was removed in 1964 and the Troika comprised Kosygin, Brezhnev and Mikoyen (replaced by Podgorny). Breshnev eventually emerged the winner of that power battle.
    Soviet communist political history is relevant as it served as a model for the Castros who supported its actions – even in Hungary and Prague.
    The position in Cuba is more complex. Currently the power both economic and military lies within the immediate family of Raul Castro Ruz, not the so-called government.
    History of other communist regimes illustrates that such families do not readily accept power transfers – Ghadafi groomed his son to become his successor (now awaiting trial), the Asads in Syria succeeded in keeping power in the family and similarly the Kims in North Korea. Will the younger members of the Castro family meekly hand over control of GAESA to the probable Troika? Will they quietly hand over control of security and the military to the Troika? Those are key!
    Currently many are excited by what they perceive to be “change” in Cuba. They fail to listen to Raul Castro when he addresses the Party faithful at Congress and if they did, they would understand that he has no intention of moving away from communist dogma. He has been soaked in it since 1953.
    Politics is about power and it would run counter to the history of socialist/communist regimes to transfer the power in Cuba without struggle.

  • September 12, 2015 at 6:46 pm
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    Gordon, I know your family is important to you, and I wish them the best, but please address the text of the article, which is what the readership is interested in.

  • September 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm
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    Michel Robinson is working night and day for normal relations between the US and Cuba. He feels retirement condos for non Cubans will be a major new industry for Cuba.
    Gordon Robinson
    [email protected]

  • September 12, 2015 at 9:56 am
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    Obama is moving as quickly as he can to advance the opening before his time runs out. Opening regular open air travel should happen. Settling the claims over nationalized property and dealing with Cuba’s counter claims will be far more complex. The property claims are the key to bringing the embargo down. Many issues would remain. Those would be resolved with less fan fare over time.

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