Next round of U.S.-Cuba talks scheduled May 21
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
The United States and Cuba plan to hold their next round of talks aimed
at reestablishing diplomatic ties and reopening embassies on May 21 in
As in previous talks, Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson will lead the U.S. delegation and
Josefina Vidal, director general of the U.S. Division of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, will head up the Cuban side.
“A U.S. Embassy in Havana will allow the United States to more
effectively promote our interests and values, and increase engagement
with the Cuban people,” the State Department said.
Since President Barack Obama’s Dec. 17 announcement of a new policy of
engagement with Cuba after more than a half century of isolation, there
have been three rounds of normalization talks.
The last negotiating session was held in Havana in March, although the
United States and Cuba have continued to have exchanges on a variety of
topics, including migration, law enforcement, human trafficking,
telecommunications and Internet access, and mutual environmental
concerns, in recent months.
On Tuesday, Cuban President Raúl Castro said he anticipated the two
countries could name ambassadors after Cuba comes off the U.S. list of
state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba, which was named to the list in 1982
for promoting revolution in Latin America and Africa, has long contended
it never should have been put on the list.
“This sort of unjust accusation is about to be lifted and we’ll be able
to name ambassadors,” Castro said.
A 45-day waiting period during which Congress can mount objections to
Obama’s decision to take Cuba off the list expires May 29 and at that
time Cuba is expected to be removed.
The United States has said it wants to reestablish diplomatic relations
first and then reopen embassies and exchange ambassadors.
“Indeed, after May 29, when time expires for the U.S. Congress to object
to removal of Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list, there is an
opening for President Obama,” said Peter Schechter, director of the
Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “He may choose
an ambassador by recess appointment over the summer, a procedural
maneuver that allows him to avoid a procedural filibuster in the Senate.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has said he will do everything he
can to block any Cuban ambassador nomination from even coming up for a vote.
Schechter said a recess appointment, which would be valid until the end
of this Congressional session, “would allow the president to move the
ball forward in opening the U.S.-Cuba relationship even while other
larger Congressional hurdles, such as the trade embargo, remain.”
Source: Next round of U.S.-Cuba talks scheduled May 21 | Miami Herald
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