US Presses Cuba to Restore Ties Before April

US Presses Cuba to Restore Ties Before AprilUS Presses Cuba to Restore Ties Before April

United States is pressing Cuba to allow the opening of its embassy in Havana by April, US officials said, despite Cuba’s demand that it first be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

A refusal by Cuba to allow the US to quickly establish an official embassy for the first time in half a century could complicate talks between the Cold War foes, reflecting enduring mistrust as they move to end decades of confrontation, Reuters reported.

Striking Cuba from the terrorism list could take until June or longer, although the White House is pushing officials to move quickly, said two US officials with direct knowledge of the State Department’s review to take Cuba off the list.

Washington is eager to reestablish diplomatic ties before a regional summit in Panama in April, when US President Barack Obama will meet Cuban leader Raul Castro for the first time since 2013, the officials said.

The two leaders announced a historic deal on December 17 to restore relations. US and Cuban diplomats will meet this month or in early March in Washington for a second round of talks.

Cuba has not made removal from the list a condition for restoring ties, US officials said. But Havana made clear during the first round of talks last month that it first wants to be removed from the terrorism list.

Washington placed Cuba on the list in 1982, citing former president Fidel Castro’s training and arming of Communist rebels in Africa and Latin America.