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Cuba-U.S. Bilateral Commission set to meet for 1st time

from:新华网2015-09-10 10:51

Autocars pass by the U.S. embassy in Havana ahead of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit, at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, on Aug. 13, 2015.

Autocars pass by the U.S. embassy in Havana ahead of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit, at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, on Aug. 13, 2015. (Xinhua/Arturo Toraya/NOTIMEX) 

HAVANA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Cuba-United States Bilateral Commission will meet for the first time Friday in Havana, Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.

"At this meeting, the delegations of the two countries will define the agenda of issues to be addressed following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States on 20 July," said a statement published on the Ministry's website.

It noted that the Commission "will discuss new areas of cooperation beneficial to both countries as well as bilateral and multilateral issues, including those unresolved...between Cuba and the United States."

The delegations will be led by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South America and Cuba, Alex Lee, and the Director of U.S. Affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez announced the creation of the Bilateral Commission on Aug. 14 when the top U.S. diplomat made a visit to Cuba.

The highest authorities of the island, including President Raul Castro, have demanded certain conditions for the normalization of ties with the U.S.

"We are beginning a new, long and complex stage on the way to the normalization of ties, which will require finding solutions to problems that have been accumulated over five decades," said Castro at the closing session of the Cuban parliament last July.

According to Castro, normalization would not happen as long as the economic blockade against Cuba stays on, as long as the U.S. maintains its naval base in Guantanamo and as long as Cuba is not compensated for the economic damage caused by decades of hostility.

In the same speech, Castro called on U.S. President Barack Obama to use his executive powers "to dismantle aspects of the (U.S.) policy that cause damage and hardship to our people."

On Jan. 16, a month after the two governments announced the negotiation process, the Democratic administration of Obama put in force policies to ease restrictions on Cuba. Obama also described the blockade as "failed" and asked Congress to repeal it.

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