US, Cuba launch historic talks to normalize ties

US, Cuba launch historic talks to normalize ties

HomeUSForeign Policy Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:21PM

The United States and Cuba opened two days of historic talks in Havana on Wednesday to restore diplomatic ties after officially breaking relations more than half a century of ago during the height of the Cold War.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Lee and Cuban foreign ministry official Josefina Vidal met in the capital’s Convention Center to kick-start negotiations over a wide range of issues.

Last month, US President Barack Obama announced that Washington will start talks with Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in US foreign policy towards the communist country in over 50 years.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced on December 17 they had reached an agreement to normalize ties after 18 months of secret negotiations.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama said, “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”

“Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” he added.

On Wednesday, an official from the Cuban foreign ministry sought to lower expectations of any significant breakthroughs from the ongoing talks.

“We can’t expect that everything will be resolved in one meeting,” the Cuban state media reported quoting the unnamed official.

“The normalization of relations is a much longer and complex process in which we must discuss issues of interests for both sides,” the official stated.

Leave a Reply