Work remains to be done with Cuba before opening embassies: US
By Indo Asian News Service | IANS
Washington, May 13 (IANS) The US has said “there’s still more work to be
done” with Cuba before embassies can be opened in each other’s capital,
after Cuban President Raul Castro said that, starting at the end of May,
the two nations can “name ambassadors”, Efe news agency reported.
“An exchange of ambassadors would be a logical step… but only once we
reestablish diplomatic relations. We do not have a fixed time for that.
We are still in negotiations,” said US State Department spokesman Jeff
Rathke at his daily press conference on Tuesday.
“It has taken a lot of effort thus far and there’s still more work to be
done, so we’re not quite ready to announce anything yet,” he added.
Castro said Tuesday that negotiations between Cuba and the US “are going
well,” adding that, after the official removal of the island from the US
list of countries sponsoring terrorism at the end of May, Washington and
Havana will be able to “name ambassadors”.
“In 45 days, on May 29, that kind of unfair accusation will be lifted
and we will name ambassadors. Now, the foreign ministry is discussing
the procedures, how matters will be,” said Castro referring to the time
period within which the US Congress must validate US President Barack
Obama’s decision regarding removing Cuba from the terrorism list.
The spokesman emphasised that the US has “always said” that the process
of reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, ties that have been
broken since 1961, “would be driven by substance” in the talks and not
by the desire to conclude the process quickly.
“We’re not operating on a set time frame. We have issues we need to work
through. We’ve talked about that in the past. And so we’re going to work
on that, but we don’t have a deadline that we’re working toward,” Rathke
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday
that Obama could have already prepared a list of candidates for the
ambassador’s post in Cuba, but the administration was not going to make
any announcement on that matter at this time.
And Rathke said that there was still no confirmed date for the fourth
round of talks with Cuban on reestablishing relations, but he said that
it would be “logical” to hold them in Washington, given that so far
those discussions have alternated between Havana and the US capital.
The latest round of talks took place in March in Havana, about a month
before the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where Obama and Castro held
a face-to-face meeting.
Before opening an embassy in Havana, the US wants to ensure, among other
things, freedom of movement for its diplomats on the Communist island.
On that subject, Castro noted on Tuesday that it was the Ronald Reagan
administration that imposed limits on travel by Cuban officials in
Washington and New York.
However, Castro said that what concerned him most “is that they will
continue doing the illegal things that they’re doing now, or that they
have been doing up to now”, such as “training independent journalists”.
“They’re giving them classes, computer screens, teleconferences from the
US, I don’t know about degrees and, of course, corresponding monthly
payment… They can’t do those things,” he said.
While the US on Tuesday insisted that the normalisation of relations
must come prior to the opening of embassies, Castro said that to get to
the normalisation phase “the (US economic) embargo has to be completely
eliminated and the Guantanamo base must be returned”.
Source: Work remains to be done with Cuba before opening embassies: US –
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