(Telesur) – Cuban and U.S. officials launched a second round of talks aimed at restoring diplomatic relations in Washington Friday.
Cuba is expected to continue insisting on being removed from the U.S. list of sponsors of terrorism and the withdrawal of the United States from Guantanamo, which has been illegally occuppied by Washington since 1903, as a prerequisite before moving forward.
The one-day talks, led by Cuba’s lead negotiator Josefina Vidal and her U.S. counterpart Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, follows a decision announced last December that the United States would expand exports, relax travel restrictions and renew diplomatic relations with ambassadors and embassies to the island nation.
See Also: Timeline of Cuban-US Bilateral Relations
Vidal and Jacobson are excepted to address several unresolved agenda items including Cuba’s request to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Cuba’s formal removal would “create the favorable context” for the countries to once more have formal embassies in their respective capitals, said Gustavo Machin, vice-director for U.S. relations at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry.
However, leading up to Friday’s high-level discussions, a senior U.S. State department official told reporters that, “The process of review of the state sponsor of terrorism list is a separate process from that of restoration of diplomatic relations, and we don’t link the two.”
Cuba, along with four countries, has remained on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1982.
The state sponsors of terrorism list is not an annual list. Rather, countries remain on the list until either the president or Congress takes action to remove a country.
The State Department has long accused Cuba of providing a safe haven to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
However in 2012, the Cuban government began facilitating and hosting the ongoing peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government.
A 2013 State Department report on terrorism stated that “there was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.”