Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Stresses Desire for Cooperation With the U.S.

Cuban-Foreign-Minister-Bruno-Rodriguez-300x198Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez used a televised interview in Spain to reiterate his country’s desire to continue the cooperation and dialogue with the United States that started under the Obama administration.

Rodríguez made the remarks during a tour of three European countries last week, which concluded with an official visit to Greece. On April 17, he was received in Spain by King Philip VI, President Mariano Rajoy, and Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis.

“The current government of the United States has said it is reviewing its policy towards Cuba. We reiterate our readiness for dialogue and cooperation on the basis of the absolute respect for our sovereignty,” Rodríguez said in an interview with Spain’s RTVE on Saturday, The Miami Herald reports.

He reportedly did not give a direct answer when asked if the Cuban government has had any contact with the Trump administration, indicating that formal interaction between the two countries has not yet occurred.

“Naturally, there are intense relations between the U.S. and Cuba, due to our proximity,” he said. “There has been a significant increase in travelers . . . cooperation agreements that were signed during the last period are being implemented and there are some contacts at the level of the U.S. government agencies and its Cuban counterparts on that basis.”

Rodríguez hopes that Cuba and the U.S. can maintain a “civilized relationship” despite the differences that exist between the two nations.

Cuban President Raúl Castro made similar remarks in January after Trump’s inauguration at the V Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). He said that the island wants to continue its rapprochement with the U.S. and have a dialogue with the new administration.

“I want to express the willingness of Cuba to continue negotiating on pending bilateral matters with the United States on the basis of equality, reciprocity and respect for the sovereignty and independence of our country and to pursue a respectful dialogue and cooperation on topics of common interest with the new government of President Donald Trump,” Castro said in his speech at the CELAC summit.

Like Rodríguez, Castro expressed Cuba’s willingness to “cooperate and live together in a civilized way,” while respecting the differences that exist between the two countries. He also took the opportunity to criticize the U.S. embargo against Cuba saying it was “causing considerable deprivation and human damages that gravely hurt our economy and hinder development.”

Rodríguez avoided answering a question about Cuba’s general elections in 2018 and the succession plan now that Castro has publicly declared his intention to step down from the presidency.

“We will have to wait for the election results,” he said. “There will be general elections. Municipal and provincial representatives will be elected, and also deputies, to the National Assembly, and they will elect the President of the State Council and Council of Ministers.”

He also reportedly deflected a question about the changes that can be expected on the island when a president without the Castro surname is elected, saying “Cuba changes all the time . . . there is no revolution that is not permanently undergoing renewal.”

Source: 4.24.17 Cuban Foreign Minister Repeats Island’s Desire for Dialogue With US.pdf