United States and Cuba to Unveil Plans to Re-Open Embassies
As relations between the U.S. and Cuba continue to improve and normalize, both sides are preparing to reopen their embassies after decades.
The two nations plan to announce the reopening of embassies next week following a series of talks in the last couple of months, according to ABC News.
The potential announcement will come days after Cuba is removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The island nation has been on that list since the 1980s when it provided Basque terrorists and FARC fighters with a safe haven. Other countries on the State Department's list include Syria, Iran, and Sudan.
Since Cuba will no longer be on the list, the U.S. can reestablish diplomatic relations more easily. The sources that spoke with ABC News did not provide a precise date for when the embassies will be reopened but it is reported the two buildings are undergoing renovations to handle full diplomatic staffs.
Last week the U.S. and Cuba delegations finished their latest round of talks and, though they did not announce any developments on the opening of embassies, they called the talks "highly productive."
"We have made significant progress in the last five months and are much closer to reestablishing relations and reopening embassies," said Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, during a May 22 press conference.
"These are the first steps in the long process of normalization that will allow us to better represent U.S. interests and increase engagement with the Cuban people."
During the press conference, Assistant Sec. Jacobson did not provide specific details about their talks but continued to be optimistic. However, she did acknowledge the special circumstances surrounding the relationship between Cuba and the U.S., tiptoeing around any compromise between the two governments to push the negotiations forward.
"We expect that in Cuba, our embassy will operate within that range and so it won't be unique. It won't be anything that doesn't exist elsewhere in the world. There are various circumstances in which embassies operate in somewhat restrictive environments," she explained, adding that she expects U.S. embassy works to carry out their expected duties like anywhere else in the world.
She comments on one issue which the U.S. and Cuba delegation have not seen eye to eye: the free movement of U.S. embassy in Cuba.
"While progress has been made in our efforts to reestablish diplomatic relations, there is more to do to ensure a future U.S. Embassy will be able to function more like other diplomatic missions elsewhere in the world and foreign diplomatic missions in Cuba, Assistant Sec. Jacobson told the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on May 20.
In a March interview with Reuters, President Barack Obama has said he hoped embassies would be reopened by the Summit of the Americas in April. However, just a little over a month after, the embassies could finally be reopening.
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