U.S., Cuba move closer toward normalising ties

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BEIJING – Officials said on Thursday that it was unlikely that U.S. and Cuba would re-open embassies before the Summit of the Americas which starts on Friday.
They, however, said there were promising signs for the two nations normalise ties.
“When you have two countries that haven’t really spoken to each other like this in 50 years, you have a lot of issues to work through as you aim to open embassies,” said Ben Rhodes.
Rhodes is President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser.
The U.S. Department meanwhile is closing in on a decision to recommend removal of Cuba its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism as Rhodes said the review is “nearing its conclusion.”
Obama ordered the review after announcing a striking policy shift toward Havana in mid-December.
He has also has vowed to act quickly once he receives the recommendation. Cuba has been in the list since 1982.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
The review is going through its final stage as a historic encounter between Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro is about to take place at the Summit of the Americas slated for April 10-11,
The meeting would mark the first substantive meeting between U.S. and Cuban leaders in half a century.
Since December 2015, Washington and Havana have held three rounds of talk on restoring diplomatic ties and re-opening embassies.
In the latest talk which held on March 31 in Washington, the two sides discussed , with both sides voicing readiness to cover a wide range of topics in future “substantive” talks.
As a sign, American private sector interest in Cuba has stepped up since mid-December.
Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca said this is evident in the number of delegations that have visited the island since,
However, there has been more talk than walk in normalising the bilateral relations, as no concrete achievement has been made yet.
The longstanding trade embargo against the island country, which has been imposed by the U.S. ever since Washington severed its diplomatic ties with Havana in 1961, is also still waiting to be lifted.
The five-decade embargo has been impeding a normal in various fields such as telecommunications, which the two sides have been trying to improve.
Cuba and the U.S. held three-day talks in Havana in late March on enhancing telecommunications between the two countries. (Xinhua/NAN)
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