Long-closed US, Cuba em­bassies re­open

Lesotho Times - - International -

peo­ple at­tended the cer­e­mony at the nearly cen­tury-old man­sion. The US del­e­ga­tion was headed by As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Roberta Jacobson.

Be­fore dawn on Mon­day, work­ers hung the Cuban flag in the lobby of the State Depart­ment along­side the ban­ners of other coun­tries with which the United States has diplo­matic re­la­tions.

“We’ve waited a long time for this day,” Sen­a­tor Pa­trick Leahy, a staunch sup­porter of rap­proche­ment, said as he en­tered the grounds of the Cuban Em­bassy.

Hard-line anti-cas­tro law­mak­ers, such as Sen­a­tors Marco Ru­bio and Bob Me­nen­dez, who op­pose Mr Obama’s out­reach to Cuba, were not in­vited.

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jeb Bush un­der­scored his op­po­si­tion on Twit­ter: “Obama’s rush to re­store diplo­matic re­la­tions with Cuba is wrong. This em­bassy will only serve to fur­ther le­git­imize re­pres­sive regime.”

The open­ing to Cuba re­flects Mr Obama’s pres­i­den­tial doc­trine of ne­go­ti­at­ing with en­e­mies, a con­cept that faces an even tougher test with a nu­clear deal reached with Iran last week.

But the coun­ter­point to restora­tion of ties is a long list of lin­ger­ing dis­putes, as well as Ha­vana’s de­sire to keep a tight rein on Cuba’s so­ci­ety and its state-run econ­omy.

In ad­di­tion to lift­ing the em­bargo, Ha­vana de­mands the re­turn of the US naval base at Guan­tanamo Bay — an is­sue that Mr Kerry said Cuba had “strong feel­ings about” but which is not cur­rently un­der dis­cus­sion.

Other prob­lems in­clude the coun­tries’ out­stand­ing le­gal claims against each other and Cuba’s shel­ter­ing of Amer­i­can fugi­tives.

— Reuters

The Cuban flag is hoisted as the em­bassy in Washington re­opens on Mon­day.

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