Photo and article by Reuters
The United States and Cuba reached a mutual decision Thursday to open an American embassy in the Carribean nation. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and Cuban director of North American affairs Josephina Vidal led the meeting that took place at a Havana convention center and focused on the specifics of the reestablishment of diplomatic ties.
These are the first meetings since Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro said on Dec. 17 that they were going to take steps to restore ties, which ended in 1961 after Fidel Castro implemented communist rule in Cuba.
Jacobson and Vidal reportedly had a business dinner Wednesday night at the official U.S. residence in Havana, marking the first time in 40 years that an American assistant secretary has visited Cuba.
Along with the embassy, the U.S. is looking to end travel restrictions on it’s diplomats and for Cuban authorities to release American fugitives. Cuba is looking to be removed from America’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism. That request is under review by the U.S. State Department.
Obama’s critics in congress say that he needs to win concessions on some issues moving forward. Those include the status of American fugitives who have gained asylum in Cuba, the status and rights of Cuban political prisoners within their own country and claims of American citizens who had their property nationalized after Cuba’s revolution in 1959.