U.S. and Cuba Meet for Talks to Fully Restore Diplomatic Ties
By Randal C. Archibold, New York Times
MEXICO CITY — The United States and Cuba are closer than ever to reaching an agreement to fully restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies, officials in both countries said as negotiators met Thursday in Washington for another round of talks to iron out remaining details and discuss possible dates.
The move toward full diplomatic relations broken decades ago during the Cold War has been seen as a key step toward ending hostilities and normalizing ties with a historic opponent that once agreed to allow Soviet nuclear missiles on its soil and repelled an invasion by American-backed insurgents.
Yet progress toward full diplomatic relations has not gone as swiftly as initially hoped in December, when President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba first committed to restoring ties in a surprise announcement.
Now, with a number of obstacles out of the way or close to it, particularly for the Cubans, the talks have reached the most optimistic point after four rounds of conversations in Havana and Washington.
“I’m trying not to sound too Pollyannaish,” said a senior State Department official, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about closed-door diplomatic matters. “But I do think we’re closer than we have been in the past, and I think my counterparts are coming up here with a desire to get this done.
“But equally,” the official added, “we have certain requirements that we need met, so we just have to see whether we can get there in this round of talks. I certainly hope so.”
Gustavo Machin, a top Cuban diplomat who has been part of his country’s delegation at the talks, told reporters in Havana on Monday, “We don’t see obstacles but rather issues to resolve and discuss.”
The governments closed their embassies after President Dwight Eisenhower broke diplomatic relations on Jan. 3, 1961, in response to a demand by Cuba’s new leader, Fidel Castro, that the American Embassy staff be significantly reduced. Mr. Castro called the embassy a spy outpost, part of an American plot to topple the Communist government he installed after the 1959 revolution.
Feature continues here: Spies Lead Talks
Editor’s Note: Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin, both undercover members of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), are suspected of being Department M – I (US Targets) officers. The elite staff of this Department handles penetrations of the US Intelligence Community, Congress, other Federal agencies, and academia.