• Historic US-Cuba talks conclude in Havana

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    HAVANA, Cuba: The first such official talks for some 50 years between the United States and Cuba concluded in Havana after three rounds held Wednesday and Thursday, which were described by both sides as constructive, on the process of restoration of diplomatic relations and opening of embassies, in addition to immigration and other bilateral issues.

    Head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director general of the US department of the foreign ministry, told reporters after the meeting on Thursday afternoon that the parties exchanged views on issues of bilateral interest and reviewed the cooperation in some areas of common interest and extending these to new areas.

    The discussions reviewed the state of cooperation on aviation safety and response to oil spills, among others, and identified new areas such as fighting drug trafficking, terrorism and epidemics, plus Cuba proposed a meeting to define the areas of cooperation to address more effectively the Ebola virus in West Africa.

    The Cuban delegation expressed a willingness to exchange information with the US on seismic monitoring, hydrography and nautical charts, and participate in joint research on marine species, establish scientific collaboration on environment, climate change mitigation and prevention of natural disasters.

    Vidal Ferreiro said that, on the issue of human rights, both delegations showed profound differences and Cuba reiterated the proposal made a year ago to the US government “to hold a respectful dialogue and based on reciprocity to address our positions on human rights and democracy.”

    She added that Cuba has concerns about the security and protection of human rights in the United States.

    The Cuban representatives expressed a willingness to discuss the delimitation of the Eastern Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and were interested in the next steps for the implementation of a pilot plan to establish mail service between the two countries.

    Vidal Ferreiro said, in answer to questions from journalists, “We are neighbors, we have profound differences but we have seen how the world can live peacefully and that civilized countries with profound differences” may find solutions to common problems and contribute to a better welfare for all.

    For her part, the head of the US delegation, Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of the Department of State for Western Hemisphere, although not addressing the press, delivered a statement in which she said that the bilateral session “included a constructive and encouraging dialogue.”

    TNS

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