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

  • 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.

  • What is your definition of socialism/communism? Please cite your source.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • You are a hopeless cause. Now you use the term “kidnap”? Detainees in Gitmo were enemy combatants. The word kidnap does not apply.

  • 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.

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