“A positive and productive dialogue,” although much remains…

The first round of negotiations was a positive and productive dialogue. We have discussed the specific measures to be taken to restore diplomatic relations between our countries, said Roberta Jacobson, head of the US delegation, who gave statements to the press at the end of the first round of talks today at the Havana Conventions Palace.

Her speech was concise and fast and she only answered two questions to the assistant press.

She said they discussed specific issues on the opening of embassies in both countries and how they expect the US Embassy in Cuba operates. Jacobson explained that this process of restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies is only part of a longer process to normalize relations, and that this step in particular is something that both parties agree fairly direct, not a very complex process and do not have a specific list of actions. The assistant secretary said that both delegations were very clear in that the Vienna Convention will guide diplomatic relations with all countries, and should guide the restoration of diplomatic relations.

Roberta Jacobson did not give an exact date for the opening of embassies but said ¨we all are working in the best possible and faster way to do when we can solve all the problems that we must address.¨

New regulations announced by the Department of Treasuries and US Trade last week shows the many actions taken by US to implement the commitment of US President with the new direction to take the policy of our country to Cuba, said Jacobson.

Our efforts to normalize relations will be a very long process and is not limited to restoring diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies. These steps towards normalizing relations are very complex steps that reflect the profound differences between the two countries and will continue to be debated as the President said, she continued.

Our presidents have decided to overcome more than 50 years of a relationship that was not based on trust, then there are many issues to be discussed before we can establish that relationship and therefore further talks will be held. The topic of human rights remains central to our discussions on this particular issue have profound differences with the Cuban government, we have also addressed it today, Jacobson said responding to a question from the press.

Meanwhile Josefina Vidal, head of the Cuban delegation, also addressed the press. She gave her statement in English and Spanish and also answered questions in both languages.

Josefina agreed that the talks had been conducted in a respectful, professional and constructive atmosphere. The Cuban delegation reiterated the government’s willingness to continue having with the US government respectful dialogue, based on sovereign equality and reciprocity, without prejudice to national independence and self-determination of our people

¨Cuba will not give up its principles to improve relations with the United States, nor shall negotiate aspects of a policy that has been recognized as failed or elements of the blockade for internal changes in our country. This is to establish civilized relations between two countries that have deep differences but can coexist in a civilized and peaceful manner recognizing these differences and in turn identify opportunities to find areas of common interest to develop a beneficial relationship for our country, for the region and for the world, Josefina said.

She said the restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies should be based on the principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations. This means for Cuba, mutual respect for political, economic and social systems of both states and avoid any form of interference in the internal or threat to the economic, political and cultural elements of both countries affairs, she said.

Vidal explained that they exchanged ideas on the next steps for the restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies, talks that should continue shortly: ¨Because this is a process that requires certain diplomatic formalities. Between Cuba and the United States there are no relationships, we have offices interests that are under the protection of a foreign government, for example, will have to terminate the Agreement that established the Interests Sections, will have to notify the government of Switzerland that has represented and represents the interests of both countries in their respective offices, among other technical matters and procedures.¨

The head of the US Department of the Foreign Ministry said it would be difficult to explain the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States while Cuba remains on the list of state sponsors of international terrorism.

She also noted that, for the opening of embassies will be necessary to solve the situation of the Cuba Interests Section in Washington that for almost a year has not had banking services.

The Cuban delegation also raised issues to be resolved like the lifting of the blockade, “long process that will require much work.” We recognize the willingness expressed by the President of the United States to hold a serious and honest debate with the US Congress to achieve the end of the blockade, Vidal said.

However, contrary to the statement of Roberta Jacobson, who referred to today had addressed the issue of human rights, the head of the Cuban delegation said that this issue has not yet been addressed, today’s meeting was solely to talk about the restoration of diplomatic relations, the opening of embassies and further process towards standardization, we have not discussed that topic in the afternoon we will have another meeting to address bilateral issues and cooperation between the two countries, she said.

After the meeting this afternoon the delegation of the United States is going to make another statement but will not take questions from the press. The Assistant Secretary Jacobson will give a press conference tomorrow morning, said Lynn Roche, head of the press office of the US Interests Section in Cuba US.

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