A special briefing by a Senior State Department Official regarding ongoing talks with Cuba was issued yesterday by the Bureau of Public Affairs. The Official stated that the Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson would be traveling to Havana, Cuba on March 16th to initiate talks that will be used for establishing more stable ties between the U.S. and Cuba. The meetings are designed to revolve around the cap of diplomats in the U.S. mission and personal travel across boarders.
U.S. Embassies are scheduled to be open in April of this year in conjunction with the seventh annual Summit of the Americas. Travel to Cuba by Americans is currently legal under the people-to-people license initiated on January 15th by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. According to International Expeditions website, this means that an American citizen must be accompanied by the company they are traveling with and a Cuban citizen at all times. The American traveler is invited to participate in a fixed schedule of cultural activities without room for personal travel outside of the group. Several agencies offer such plans, and Americans have had the opportunity to take advantage of these offers since January 2015.
In the briefing, the Official confirmed that the opening of embassies signifies the building diplomatic relations that has the potential diversify American tourism in Cuba. However, several questions arose concerning Cuba’s support of Venezuela’s challenging the United States sanctioning of seven officials, along with the fact that the U.S. has not removed Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list.
Secretary Jacobson will be traveling on Sunday March 15th, and is expected to return midweek in the following week. The Senior State Department Official responded to with a positive outlook to the questions posed but insisted that these issues are still in the works. and further talks are necessary to find agreement. He reiterated President Obama by responding, “you don’t overcome 50 years of policy in a month.”