Cuban and American officials are scheduled to meet in Washington today for the fifth, and hopefully final, round of talks ahead of restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries. This marks the closest to completing the process since U.S-Cuba relations ceased in January 1961 under President Eisenhower.
While statements from both countries suggest a clear commitment and optimism regarding the endeavor, some lingering hesitation remains.
A State Department official speaking to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity was recently quoted saying,
“I’m trying not to sound too Pollyannaish…But I do think we’re closer than we have been in the past, and I think my counterparts are coming up here with a desire to get this done…But equally, we have certain requirements that we need met, so we just have to see whether we can get there in this round of talks. I certainly hope so.”
Gustavo Machin, a leading Cuban diplomat and part of Cuba’s delegation for the talks, told reporters in Havana earlier this week, ““We don’t see obstacles but rather issues to resolve and discuss.”
As both parties suggest, key issues do remain.
For the U.S, this means a commitment from Cuba that diplomats will be able to travel freely, speaking to whomever they choose on the island and that shipments and individuals traveling to the embassy would be free from harassment or abuse.
Despite Cuba’s relative trepidation, formalization of the new relationship is expected in the coming days, bringing the number of countries the United States is completely without relations with to 4.