Cuba and the U.S. begin talks to renew diplomatic relations

Cuba and the United States meet for talks on restoring diplomatic relations on Monday, seeking more progress toward an agreement while not allowing differences over Venezuela to impede their historic rapprochement. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson is due to meet in Havana with Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry’s chief of U.S. affairs, with talks possibly continuing into Wednesday. Jacobson and Vidal led their respective delegations with great fanfare in Havana in January and in Washington in February, but this session will take place with smaller teams and, so far at least, a media blackout.

I hope that the U.S. government understands that it can’t handle Cuba with a carrot and Venezuela with a garrote.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez

The U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961, and relations remained hostile even after the end of the Cold War. But President Barack Obama reversed the policy of isolating Cuba, entering 18 months of secret talks that led to a joint announcement with President Raul Castro on December 17. Cuba wants to be removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and also to find a bank willing to handle transactions for its diplomatic posts in the United States. For its part, the U.S. wants to increase staff at its mission in Havana and have unrestricted travel for its diplomats on the island.