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Cuba, US to discuss thorny human rights issue in Washington

  • Written by News Jamaica source: TeleSUR
  • Published in World News
Cuban President Raul Castro and his US counterpart, Barak Obama-Reuters Photo Cuban President Raul Castro and his US counterpart, Barak Obama-Reuters Photo
Representatives from Cuba and the United States will meet once again to work toward the normalization of bilateral relations.This time the meeting will take place in Washington on March 31, when they will discuss the controversial and frequently thorny issue of human rights.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriquez announced the meeting in a press conference Thursday.

The Deputy Director For Multilateral Affairs Pedro Luis Pedroso also spoke at the news conference highlighting that at the meeting they will be discussing issues of interest to both countries.

As always, the United States will hypocritically express concerns over human rights in Cuba, whose government is prepared to highlight its achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Washington will also have to respond, however, to Cuban concerns about the human rights situation in the United States, Pedroso said.

“[Cuba] hopes this dialogue will unfold in a constructive tone, on the basis of reciprocity, without conditions or discriminatory treatment and in full respect of sovereignty, independence and non-interference in the countries' internal affairs," Pedroso told reporters.

Pedroso emphasized that Cuba and the United States have profound differences regarding their respective political systems, democracy and human rights, as well as international law.

Havana and Washington officials have held three rounds of talks since President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro announced Dec. 17 normalization of relations after five decades of U.S. aggression toward the island nation, including a unilateral blockade in violation of international law.

And while Washington has admitted the failure of its blockade against Cuba, it insists on calling for sweeping reforms in the island nation. 

Cuba has responded that the United States' own record on human rights is atrocious, pointing especially to the prison at Guantanamo Bay where dozens of alleged suspects of terrorism were tortured for years, despite never being charged with any crime.

cuba usaCuba proposed this meeting in July 2014, and after the historic Dec. 7 announcement of rapprochement between the two countries, they reiterated the need for this session to take place.

The Cuban official said that other issues of common interest would be discussed this month's end, and made it clear that the Havana government expects the meeting to take place with respect to sovereignty, and that Washington would not attempt to impose conditions nor interfere in Cuban internal affairs.

In January, Cuba and the U.S. held a first round of talks, during which the Washington delegation expressed concern over what it considered a lack of freedom of expression and assembly in Cuba, to which Cuban officials replied saying United States had no moral as their reputation was tarnished by wide police brutality and racial profiling, as well as rampant inequality.

Republican lawmakers and many Cuban exiles in the U.S. have pressured the Obama administration, saying they would condition any concessions to the island on forcing Cuba to make arbitrary changes regarding human rights and political freedoms.

The Obama government has said it will remove Cuba from its biased list of sponsors of terrorism by next month, paving the way for the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana before the Summit of the Americas in Panama April 10 and 11, which will include Cuba for the first time.

But human rights is not the only issue that needs to be ironed out, as the U.S. seeks compensation for American property nationalized after the Cuban Revolution, while Cuba wants the United States out of Guantanamo and the blockade lifted.

​Venezuela will also be a thorny issue, as the United States increased pressure against the South American nation at the same time it began easing tensions with Cuba.

However, Havana has pledged its unconditional solidarity with Venezuela against the sanctions on the country and the recent Obama executive order calling the Latin American nation an “extraordinary threat to its national security.”

This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: