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Cuba-U.S. reconciliation positive step, but a long way to go: expert

(Xinhua)    12:47, July 03, 2015

MEXICO CITY, July 2 -- The Cuban-U.S. rapprochement is a positive and important step after five decades of hostility, but there is still a long way to go for the two countries to fully normalize relations, a Mexican expert has said.

This new phase of the Cuban-U.S. relationship is positive and will determine these two countries' new political and economic relations with Latin America, the Caribbean and other nations, Ignacio Martinez Cortez from the National Autonomous University of Mexico told Xinhua in an interview.

Commenting on the fact that the United States and Cuba officially announced earlier this week their decision to reestablish diplomatic relations and proceed with the reopening of their embassies as of July 20, Martinez said, "This is a very important step."

He noted that the two countries showed no intention of rapprochement since their relations broke down over 50 years ago.

"Now everything looks like they (U.S. and Cuba) are going to make the first step by at least reestablishing relations at a diplomatic level," Martinez said.

Martinez listed the positive developments in the Cuban-U.S. relations since presidents of both countries, Barack Obama and Raul Castro, announced in December a "thawing" of relations.

So far, Washington and Havana have held four rounds of talks in recent months aimed at reestablishing diplomatic relations.

In December 2014, Castro's government released 65-year-old former U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned for five years for allegedly introducing illegal satellite equipment into the island.

In turn, Obama forgave three of the five Cubans who had been imprisoned since 1998 after being accused of spying in the United States. Cuba then released a U.S. intelligence official who had been detained for years in Havana.

In May, the U.S. officially removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors for terrorism, eliminating a large obstacle to reestablishing diplomatic relations between the two former Cold War enemies.

Martinez also underscored the fact the United States announced a series of measures to facilitate travels and trade between the two countries at the beginning of the year and that Obama is currently trying to lift the blockade against the Caribbean island.

During an announcement about opening an embassy in Cuba on Wednesday, Obama asked the U.S. Congress to take the necessary steps to lift the embargo that impedes U.S. citizens from travelling to and doing business with Cuba.

But as Obama lacks the support of Washington to remove the embargo against Cuba, Martinez said, "There is still a long way to go" before the U.S.-Cuban ties can be fully restored.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Yao Chun)

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