WASHINGTON – The United States confirmed Friday that there will be a “preliminary” meeting on human rights with Cuba next Tuesday, March 31, in Washington, which will serve to discuss “the methodology and structure of future conversations” on the subject.
The U.S. delegation at the meeting will be led by the undersecretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Tom Malinowski, a State Department spokesperson said in a communique sent to Efe.
The deputy director of multilateral affairs and international law at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, Pedro Luis Pedroso, said on Thursday in Havana that Cuba had proposed holding the first human rights meeting with the United States on March 31 in Washington.
“This preliminary meeting reflects our continued emphasis on human rights and democratic principles in Cuba,” the anonymous spokesperson said.
The talks on human rights, which “are and will continue to be a priority” within the process of closer relations announced last December to reestablish the bilateral diplomatic ties that have been broken off since 1961, “were agreed to by both parties,” the source said.
Pedroso said this Thursday that “Cuba hopes that the dialogue will develop in a constructive environment, on a reciprocal basis, without preconditions or discriminatory treatment and with full respect for sovereign equality, independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of the parties.”
At next Tuesday’s meeting in Washington, Cuba will present, according to Pedroso, “its achievements in the promotion and protection of all human rights,” not only on the island, but also in other countries that benefit from Cuban cooperation, particularly in the fields of universal access to free, high quality healthcare, education and cultural services.
The presidents of the United States, Barack Obama, and of Cuba, Raul Castro, announced last December a historic accord aimed at putting an end to decades of enmity that seeks, as a first step, the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana.
Up to now the negotiating teams of both countries have had three official meetings, the last on March 16 in Havana, to discuss the reopening of their respective embassies as soon as possible, though the United States would like that to happen before the Summit of the Americas next April 10-11 in Panama.