American senators visit Havana to improve diplomatic ties

World Today

American senators visit Havana to improve diplomatic ties

After more than five decades of hostility, it appears Cuba and the U.S. could now become even closer. Three U.S. senators visiting Havana said there could be enough support in Congress to repeal the 52-year-old trade embargo on Cuba. A new round of negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties with Cuba will take place next week in Washington. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reported from Havana.

American senators visit Havana to improve diplomatic ties

American senators visit Havana to improve diplomatic ties

After more than five decades of hostility, it appears Cuba and the U.S. could now become even closer. Three U.S. senators visiting Havana said there could be enough support in Congress to repeal the 52-year-old trade embargo on Cuba. A new round of negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties with Cuba will take place next week in Washington. CCTV America's Michelle Begue reported from Havana.

The three U.S. senators were on a trade mission in Cuba this weekend and had a chance to see, first hand, how lifting of the trade embargo could have a positive impact on lives of Cubans.

U.S. Senators Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Amy Klobuchar ended a four-day visit to Cuba on Tuesday where they expressed optimism about building bipartisan support for a bill, which Klobuchar is the lead sponsor, that would lift the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

“The reason that we came here was to get our own impressions, as one of the first groups to come since December 17th, so we can bring it back and tell our colleagues, because, as you know, there are some people in Congress that have had one view,” Klobuchar said.

The Democratic senators said there could be enough support from Republicans in Congress to dismantle the trade embargo, pointing to similar bipartisan efforts by a Republican-led bill to lift travel restrictions.

A new round of negotiations, to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, is expected to start next week in Washington D.C.

“There are benefits for both countries if we can move forward but both countries have to get passed their old mindsets, and realize that if this is a new day, both sides are going to have to move,”  Warner said.

The question is: how much is each country willing to move. During a summit held by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States at the end of January, Cuban President Raul Castro said the U.S. must give back Guantanamo if relations are to be normalized, leaving many to wonder how long will the process take.

“Between Cuba and the U.S., without a doubt, there needs to be a number of points that need to be taken into consideration, to think that this can seriously materialize. First of all, Cuba needs to be taken off the state sponsored terrorism list,” analyst Pedro Otero said.

While diplomacy may move slowly, politicians are already working on new trade opportunities, especially in Cuban ports.

“I can envision, ships sitting at Meriel with containers of the finest food in the world, coming from my state to Cuba, if we can continue to move this difficult and complicated process along towards normalization,” McCaskill said.

The three senators also met with Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba’s chief negotiator in talks with the U.S., as they discussed issues of bilateral interests.