Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parilla this afternoon, August 14, reported that he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a constructive and respectful conversation, discussed the next steps to be taken as the countries move toward normalizing relations, now that the initial phase of reestablishing diplomatic relations has concluded.

During a joint press conference at the Hotel Nacional, Rodríguez said that, to begin this next stage, agreement had been reached to establish a Bilateral Commission to identify questions which can be addressed immediately, as well as more complicated pending issues which have accumulated over the past 50 years.

In this context, Rodríguez indicated that in the coming weeks, representatives from the two governments will meet to establish the working framework for this Commission.

Referring to the speech made by Kerry at the U.S. embassy’s opening, the Cuban Foreign Minister said that despite differences, a bilateral dialogue and increased collaboration between the two countries is possible, reiterating that Cuba is willing to talk, accepting the fact that it will be difficult to reach agreement on some topics.

Rodríguez emphasized that during his meeting with Kerry at the Ministry’s headquarters, he had reiterated Cuba’s call for an end to the blockade as essential to normal relations, in addition to the return of territory illegally occupied by the

Guantánamo Naval Base.

He likewise noted that progress must be made on the issue of compensation for damage caused the Cuban people by 50 years of an aggressive policy.

Rodríguez reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to reestablishing relations based on respect for the country’s sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs.

Despite the differences, he said, it is possible for the two governments to establish constructive relations, which will be different from those of the past.

He indicated that the opportunity exists to expand cooperation in several areas of mutual interest, with the support of both peoples and the international community.

Cuba, he said, has always been open to contact with everyone, and in this spirit, he welcomed tourists from the U.S. who would like to get to know the Cuban people better, as well as U.S. companies interested in taking advantage of opportunities in Cuba.