Historic talks have begun between the United States and Cuba as diplomatic relations move forward between the two counties following years of embargos and disputes.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at the Cuban foreign ministry, all attended the first meetings between Cuba and the United States.
While the moves to improve relations have been largely welcomed both sides have been seen to take a cautious approach as work is done to restore a relationship for the first time since ties were broken by Washington back in 1961.
Senior officials in the US government have stated that they hope to be able to reopen an embassy in Cuba with a Cuban embassy die to open in America in the coming months but the steps forward are set to be plagued with difficulties following decades of hostility.
One of the aims of the United States is to lift travel restrictions and for Cuba to also hand over fugitives from America while Cuba is looking to be removed from the list of counties considered to be state sponsors of terrorism.
According to a report by Reuters, Cuba has complained that the U.S. law promotes dangerous illegal immigration and protested against a separate U.S. program that encourages Cuban doctors to defect, calling it a “reprehensible brain drain practice”.
The report continued to say that despite resistance from some in Congress, Obama has set the United States on a path toward removing economic sanctions and a 53-year-old trade embargo against Cuba.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he looked forward to formally opening a U.S. embassy in Cuba.
“And when it is timely, when it is appropriate, I look forward to traveling to Cuba in order to formally open an embassy and begin to move forward,” Kerry told reporters in Washington.
The change in the relationship between America and Cuba comes after President Obama declared that he wanted to alter diplomatic affairs between the two counties. Many people have favoured the changes but there are also many opponents to the changes.
According to a report by Reuters, in his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Obama urged Congress to start work on ending the embargo, but critics say Obama first needs to win concessions on a list of issues. They include: Cuban political prisoners and democratic rights, the claims of U.S. citizens whose property was nationalized after Cuba’s 1959 revolution, and U.S. fugitives who have received asylum in Cuba.