Cuba and the US list topics to progress on bilateral relations

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — Environmental protection and prevention of natural disasters, health, civil aviation, law implementation and enforcement, the struggle against drug trafficking and human trafficking, and transnational crime are among the top issues that experts from Cuba and the United States will begin to discuss during the coming weeks.

This was announced by Josefina Vidal, director general of the United States office of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, while speaking with the press following the first meeting on Friday of the Bilateral Working Commission announced on August 14 by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The most important aspect is that Friday’s meeting with the US delegation was held in a professional, respectful and constructive atmosphere, said the diplomat that headed the Cuban delegation.

In the words of the representative of the foreign ministry, an objective agenda with the idea of offering results and medium and short term goals was outlined.

This is the first time that a serious agenda to work together towards the normalization of relations has been discussed, since previously there were only bilateral meetings without a roadmap.

She described as organic and structured the new mechanism that will follow up defined topics and will discuss at the level of experts, working groups and commissions.

The Bilateral Commission, which will meet again in November in Washington, will encourage the work of the groups and will give direction and a systematic approach to the process, Vidal explained.

The agenda also includes, said Vidal, the development of dialogue on matters of bilateral interest, including those in which the two countries have different positions, such as human trafficking and human rights.

Likewise, other topics of a multilateral nature will be tackled, such as climate change and the struggle against epidemics, pandemics and other threats to world health.

Other aspects to be addressed will be the search for a solution to pending problems in bilateral relations, such as compensation for the human and economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the policies implemented by different US administrations for over five decades and US properties nationalized in Cuba.

The diplomat said that talking about compensations will be highly complicated, because the expert meetings must begin by clarifying figures, since over 15 years have passed since the last demand presented by Cuba in this regard.

She noted that Cuba spoke today of the interest of including later in this new mechanism the analysis on reciprocal protection of trademarks and patents, due to the economic importance of this issue so that intellectual property rights are respected.

Vidal said the Cuban delegation at the meeting stressed that lifting the economic embargo imposed by the US is essential in the current bilateral context and essential to normalize relations.

Cuba also reiterated that, in order to have normal relations, it will be necessary for the US to return to the island the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base, suspend radio and television broadcasts from the United States to Cuba, and eliminate programs aimed at the destabilization and subversion of Cuban constitutional order.

Caribbean News Now, September 15, 2015

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