Rare US-Cuba meeting focuses on Haiti

2010-04-01 11:49

Cuban and US diplomats held a rare meeting at the United Nations

(UN) headquarters in New York that focused on aid efforts for quake-hit Haiti,

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said.


The meeting on Wednesday between Rodriguez and Cheryl Mills, chief

of staff to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “focused on rebuilding the

health system of” Haiti, he said in a statement.


The encounter came on the sidelines of the UN donor conference for

Haiti.


“Some cooperative activities have taken place between Cuba and the

United States, in the effort to provide emergency care” after the earthquake,

the minister said, adding that similar actions in the future are expected “to

take place on the ground.”


The US broke off diplomatic relations with the communist island in

1961, but US President Barack Obama has said he would seek to ease tensions with

adversaries like Cuba.


In the days after the 7.0-magnitude quake that struck Haiti on

January 12, killing more than 220?000 people and leaving 1.3?million more

homeless, Cuba offered rare cooperation with Washington by letting aid missions

pass through its airspace and opening up its hospitals for victims.


Over the last year, the US administration has lifted travel and

money transfer restrictions on American citizens with relatives in Cuba,

although it has urged Havana to free political prisoners and improve political

freedom.


Last week Obama slammed the Cuban government regarding political

and human rights repression and called for an end to the “clenched fist” policy

against the Cuban people.


About 50 international donors made a US$9.9?billion pledge at the

UN conference on Wednesday in an attempt to help Haiti recover from the

devastating earthquake.

 

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