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  • The hands of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro are seen during a news conference as part of Obama's three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 21, 2016.

    The hands of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro are seen during a news conference as part of Obama's three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 21, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 May 2016
Opinion

Cuban officials also said they want the controversial Guantánamo Naval Base to be returned to Cuba. 

The lifting of the U.S. blockade on Cuba must be made a priority in order to help the Cuban people and further development on the island nation, Cuban delegates said Monday following the latest round of talks with their U.S. counterparts.

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In a May 16 press release issued after the talks in Havana, the Cuban delegation lambasted the effects of the blockade that the U.S. has imposed on the Caribbean island since 1960.

The statement noted that the blockade means “very few Cuban products can be imported by the United States” and that “U.S. investments in Cuba are not allowed except in telecommunications; and there are no normal banking relations between both countries."

“Therefore," the statement continued, "the Cuban delegation insisted that the lifting of the blockade is a priority, because it continues to harm the Cuban people and Cuba’s relations with third countries, and is also the main obstacle to the development of our economy.:

 

Delegates also said they “reaffirmed the need for the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base to be returned to Cuba” during the talks.

Diplomatic relations between the two Cold War enemies were restored last year, with both reopening their embassies in Havana and Washington in July.

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In the past 12 months there have been a number of foreign investment, travel, telecommunications, business operations, banking and remittances reforms approved by both sets of governments.

The measures have allowed U.S. companies to establish a presence in Cuba and U.S. citizens to travel to the island for educational purposes.

The thawing of relations culminated in the visit of President Barack Obama in March, the first visit of a U.S. president to the island in 88 years.

The statement released Monday notes that both delegations “identified the steps they will be taking during the next months as part of the process towards the improvement of relations.”

Both delegations agreed to hold a fourth meeting this September in Washington DC.

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