Cuba-US: New Commission Will Address Outstanding Issues

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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez held a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez expressed pride in Cuba’s achievements and optimism about ongoing normalization of Cuba-U.S. relations on Friday following the historic reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, while his U.S. counterpart John Kerry said lifting the blockade “makes sense.”

“Despite differences in our two governments, it is possible to build civilized, respectful, productive relations,” said Rodriguez in a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Havana on Friday.

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However, Rodriguez said that there are “diverse views” and “deep differences” in the process of reestablishing diplomatic ties, particularly regarding the exercise of national sovereignty, democracy, human rights, and international rights.

But despite differing opinions, the two governments have agreed to establish a commission to define outstanding issues.

The Cuban Foreign minister said the “the total lifting of the blockade is essential for the full normalization of relations” and reiterated calls for “compensation for the human and economic damage it caused over the decades”.

At the conference, Kerry said “it makes sense to lift the embargo” referring to the half century economic blockade imposed by the U.S.

Cuba and the U.S. also have “different interpretations of history,” Rodriguez added, referring to the more than 50 years of frozen diplomatic ties and the U.S. blockade against Cuba.

At the conference, Kerry said “today is a historic day” and emphasized that “normalization between the U.S. and Cuba will remove a source of division in the region.”

He added that he “doesn’t see” another U.S. president reversing the moves undertaken by Obama as it was “isolating us, not changing the world, we need to recognise this reality,”

He said that the “(joint) committee will examine anything” but that there was “no plan” to change the position on Guantanamo Bay.

Kerry said that there will continue to be differences between the two nations but affirmed “there are differences…. but there are ways to find a path forward that benefit both countries”.

Rodriguez said Cuba is “very proud” of its adherence to universal human rights, including social, economic, political, and cultural rights, as well as protection of rights of women and children.

Meanwhile, Cuba remains very concerned over human rights and political issues in the United States, including ongoing racial discrimination, police brutality, the use of torture, military intervention in other countries, and the undue influence of private and special interests in politics, the Cuban foreign minister said.

“In Cuba, there are many examples of defending human rights,” said Rodriguez, highlighting that despite the decades-long blockade Cuba has made important advances in key development areas including education and healthcare.

 

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