Cuba sounds warning ahead of next round of U.S. talks
BY DANIEL TROTTA
HAVANA Tue Feb 3, 2015 12:07am EST
(Reuters) – Cuba warned the United States on Monday that it wants
American diplomats to scale back aid for Cuban dissidents before the two
countries can reopen embassies in each other’s capitals.
The long-time adversaries are negotiating the restoration of diplomatic
relations as a first step toward reversing more than five decades of
confrontation. Officials for both governments met in Havana in January
and a second round of talks is expected to be held in Washington this month.
But Cuba’s lead negotiator said in an interview broadcast on state
television that if the United States wants free movement for its
diplomats in Cuba, it must stop using them to support the political
“The way those (U.S.) diplomats act should change in terms of
stimulating, organizing, training, supplying and financing elements
within our country that act against the interests of … the government
of the Cuban people,” Josefina Vidal said.
“The total freedom of movement, which the U.S. side is posing, is tied
to a change in the behavior of its diplomatic mission and its
officials,” said Vidal, Cuba’s top official for U.S. affairs.
Washington has long criticized the communist government for repressing
opponents of the one-party system. While public support for dissidents
is limited, they receive plenty of attention from U.S. and Western
The United States says it supports Cuban activists who exercise their
right to freedom of expression.
The restoration of diplomatic ties could happen before a regional summit
in Panama in April, when U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President
Raul Castro would meet for the first time since shaking hands at the
funeral of Nelson Mandela in December 2013.
Obama and Castro spoke on the phone the day before their separate but
simultaneous announcements on Dec. 17 that they would attempt to end
their Cold War-era hostilities.
The warning by Vidal suggested there were obstacles to restoring
diplomatic ties, which has been seen as a relatively easy first step
before the two sides try to resolve deeper differences on matters such
as human rights and the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba.
Vidal said the conduct of Cuban diplomats in Washington was
“impeccable”, while suggesting the Americans were meddling in internal
“Matters of the internal affairs in Cuba are not negotiable,” Vidal
said. “Nor are we going to negotiate matters of an internal nature
regarding Cuban sovereignty in exchange for lifting the embargo. Beyond
that, everything else is a process of negotiation.”
(Editing by Paul Tait)
Source: Cuba sounds warning ahead of next round of U.S. talks | Reuters