- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
U.S., Cuban postal officials to hold landmark direct talks
The announcement that U.S. and Cuban officials will hold landmark talks this week about restarting direct mail service between the two nations prompted a mix of reactions Monday on whether the Obama administration plans a broader outreach to the Castro regime.
Veteran Cuba watchers agreed that the development is unlikely to trigger a wider normalization in relations any time soon. But the notion that the talks — slated for Thursday and Friday — could pull Washington and Havana closer than they've been in more than half a century prompted a harsh reaction from at least one Republican on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, said that the White House is caving to pressure from Cuban leaders desperate to end trade restrictions frozen since the 1960s.
"The regime is once again manipulating the U.S. administration in this game because it wants us to lift the embargo and make further concessions," said Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, a former chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and a staunch opponent of easing the standoff that has defined bilateral relations since Cuban leader Fidel Castro agreed to house Soviet ballistic missiles in 1961.
Mr. Castro, 86, stepped down in 2008, and the top post is now held by his 82-year-old brother Raul.
The State Department said Monday that the postal talks will occur well within policy boundaries set long ago by Congress.
The talks will be led by R. Cabanas Rodriguez, the chief of mission at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, and Lea Emerson, the U.S. Postal Service's director of international postal affairs.
Similar negotiations in 2009 failed to produce an agreement. Separate negotiations on issues such as immigration have been on hold in recent years amid tensions simmering between the U.S. and Cuba over the trade embargo and Washington's unwillingness to remove Cuba from its official list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Washington also has demanded that Cuba release jailed American subcontractor Alan Gross, who was arrested in December 2009 while working for a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded program. Cuban authorities gave Mr. Gross a 15-year prison sentence and accused him of illegally delivering satellite phones to individuals in the nation's Jewish community.
Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen alluded to the case in a statement Monday, asserting that "a U.S. citizen languishes unjustly in a Cuban prison and brave freedom Cuban activists are risking their lives while on hunger strikes to protest the island tyranny."
Some Cuba policy specialists suggested the postal talks could lead to something more ambitious
"This is the way diplomacy is conducted," said Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Council of the Americas in New York. "The idea some have, that these talks represent a concession, when in fact it will open up precisely the channels of communication we want to have, defies the very notion of diplomacy and the stated goals of our Cuba policy."
But advocates of such an opening were less than impressed Monday by the announcement that postal talks will be held this week. "Any step taken toward expanding the free flow of information and resources from the United States to the Cuban people is a step in the right direction, but it does fall short of Obama's stated goal of really seeking a new beginning and a new relationship," said Ricardo Herrero, deputy executive director of the Cuba Study Group, a Washington-based Cuban exile organization.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
- U.S., Chinese diplomats talk air defense zone ahead of Biden visit
- State mulling whether to invite Iran to upcoming Syria talks
- Election strengthens Honduran military's hand
- U.S. B-52 bombers buzz China's expanded airspace as dispute with Japan escalates
- Obama defends Iran nuclear deal, attacks critics for 'bluster'
Latest Blog Entries
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: I do
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
White House pets gone wild!