US pressing Cuba to restore diplomatic ties before April

By REUTERS
February 6, 2015 18:44
1 minute read.

 
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The United States is pressing Cuba to allow the opening of its embassy in Havana by April, US officials told Reuters, despite the Communist island's demand that it first be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

A refusal by Cuba to allow the United States to quickly establish an official embassy for the first time in half a century could complicate talks between the Cold War foes, reflecting enduring mistrust as they move to end decades of confrontation.

It would also mark the first major setback since President Barack Obama's historic shift in Cuba policy in December, suggesting one of the biggest foreign policy moves of his administration is struggling to achieve even its first goal.

Striking Cuba from the terrorism list could take until June or longer, although the White House is pushing officials to move quickly, said two US officials with direct knowledge of the State Department's review to take Cuba off the list.

Washington is eager to re-establish diplomatic ties before a regional summit in Panama in April, when Obama will meet Cuban leader Raul Castro for the first time since 2013, the officials said.

The two leaders announced a historic deal on Dec. 17 to restore relations. US and Cuban diplomats will meet this month or in early March in Washington for a second round of talks.

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