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U.S. says mistrust must be overcome to restore Cuba ties
BY LESLEY WROUGHTON AND DANIEL TROTTA
HAVANA Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:39pm EST

(Reuters) – The United States and Cuba moved closer to restoring
diplomatic relations on Thursday with historic, high-level talks, but
the Americans noted the two sides must overcome more than 50 years of
mistrust to normalize trade and .

The talks were the first since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban
President announced on Dec. 17 that they would work to
restore diplomatic ties, which Washington severed in 1961 two years
after Raul’s brother, Fidel, took power and began implementing communist
rule.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who led the American
delegation, said re-establishing diplomatic ties and opening embassies
in Havana and Washington were “not overly cumbersome,” but the two sides
had profound differences on other issues, such as Cuba’s
record.

Cuba in turn expressed concern over human rights in the United States, a
reference to recent killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson,
Missouri, and New York City.

“We have … to overcome more than 50 years of a relationship that was
not based on confidence or trust, so there are things we have to discuss
before we can establish that relationship and so there will be future
conversations,” Jacobson told reporters.

Chief among the differences is the comprehensive U.S. trade
against Cuba. Obama has loosened parts of the embargo and asked the
Republican-controlled Congress to start lifting it.

Cuba also told the Americans it wants to be removed from the U.S. list
of state sponsors of terrorism before re-establishing diplomatic ties.

In immigration talks on Wednesday, Cuba deplored U.S. policies that
grant safe haven to Cubans with special protections denied to other
nationalities, while the Americans vowed to stand by the so-called Cuban
Adjustment Act.

The Cuban delegation was led by Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs
at the Cuban foreign ministry, who made a rare visit to the official
U.S. residence in Havana for a working dinner on the eve of the talks.

Vidal said the discussions took place in a “respectful, professional and
constructive climate,” and that the two sides agreed to meet again at an
undetermined date. She cautioned, however, that Havana would not
tolerate any interference in its internal affairs.

“This process is about the establishment of civilized relations between
two countries with profound differences,” Vidal said.

In one sign of discord, Vidal contradicted Jacobson’s assertion the two
sides discussed human rights on Thursday. Jacobson said they had while
Vidal said they had not.

Cuba did say, however, that the topic was broached in a later session
that covered a host of bilateral issues, when Cuba expressed concern
over human rights in the United States.

Cuba bristles at U.S. lecturing about Cuba’s one-party system,
repression of dissidents and state control of the media, sometimes
countering with misgivings about U.S. race relations.

“My delegation reiterated its proposal to sustain a respectful dialogue
on a reciprocal basis between Cuba and the United States,” Gustavo
Machin, the second-ranking Cuban official in the talks, told reporters.

Jacobson’s visit marks the first time in 38 years that a U.S. official
of her rank has visited the island nation on official business.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, Daniel Trotta and Rosa Tania Valdés;
Editing by Peter Galloway, Alan Crosby and Andre Grenon)

Source: U.S. says mistrust must be overcome to restore Cuba ties |
Reuters –

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