US and Cuba discuss restoration of diplomatic relations
HAVANA, Cuba - The US and Cuba delegations both agreed on Thursday that the round of talks on the restoration of diplomatic relations, held in Havana at the International Conference Center, was an important step on the road to implementing the decision announced by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro last December 17.
Head of the Cuban delegation Josefina Vidal, director general of the US department in the ministry of foreign affairs, told reporters that the dialogue was held in a "respectful climate, professional and constructive," while the head of the US delegation, Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, called it "positive and productive."
Jacobson said in a brief statement that measures to be taken to restore diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies were discussed in concrete and real terms.
She added that actions have been taken to implement the commitments of the US president relating to this, and acknowledged it to be a very long process, because it is not limited to the restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in each country.
She added, however, that "today we have taken new steps in this direction."
Both diplomats agreed that this process must be guided by the principles of international conventions on diplomatic and consular relations.
Vidal said the Cuban side reiterated the readiness of the government of Cuba to continue holding a respectful dialogue, based on sovereign equality and reciprocity, without prejudice to national independence and self-determination of peoples.
"For Cuba, this means mutual respect for the political, economic and social systems of both states, and avoiding any interference in the internal or threats regarding cultural elements, political or other issues,” she said.
However, she noted that it is difficult to explain a restoration of diplomatic relations while Cuba continues on the US State Department list of state sponsors of international terrorism.
“We move that is difficult to explain that while Cuba continues on an unjust list of state sponsors international terrorism, there is a restoration of diplomatic relations,” Vidal said.
She also expressed deep concern that, for almost a year, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington has lacked a bank to conduct its operations, due to the strengthening of the financial measures imposed on the island by the economic, commercial and financial embargo maintained by the US.
A Cuban diplomatic source told the press prior to the historic meeting that “we cannot expect to solve all problems in just one meeting” and added that Cuba and the US are taking steps to reestablish ties that were broken over 50 years ago, but “the normalization of relations is a much longer and complex process when we have to discuss issues of interest for both parties.”