Photo: Ismael Francisco

Yesterday afternoon, July 20, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba’s minister of Foreign Affairs, was welcomed at the U.S. State Department in Washington by his counterpart, John Kerry.

The heads of Cuban and U.S. diplomacy discussed the current state of relations between the two countries, as well as progress achieved since the announcements made on December 17, 2014, including Cuba’s removal from the list of States sponsors of terrorism; the historic meeting between President Raúl Castro and President Barack Obama in Panama; the expansion of official exchanges on issues of common interest; the re-establishment of diplomatic relations; and the re-opening of embassies.

Acknowledging the appeal made by President Obama to the U.S. Congress to definitively lift the blockade, as well as the steps which have been taken to modify aspects of its implementation, Minister Rodríguez Parrilla insisted that the lifting of the blockade is essential to the normalization of relations, as is the resolution of other problems which have accumulated over more than fifty years.

He emphasized that, in the meantime, President Obama can continue using his executive powers to significantly reduce the blockade’s impact.

The Cuban Minister reiterated the Cuban government’s willingness to move toward the normalization of relations with the United States on the basis of respect and equality - without compromising the island’s independence or sovereignty.

Both parties reiterated their interest in normalizing bilateral relations, recognizing that this will be a long and complex process that will require the willingness of both countries.

This is the first visit paid to the United States by a Cuban foreign minister since the triumph of the Revolution. The Cuban minister is in Washington leading the delegation which attended the re-opening of the Cuban Embassy in this country.