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Economic blockade of Cuba main obstacle for normalizing relations with US — ambassador

March 27, 2015, 15:44 UTC+3 NOVOSIBIRSK

The blockade stays in place, nothing has yet changed since December 17, when Obama and Castro announced their plans to restore diplomatic relations,

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© AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

NOVOSIBIRSK, March 27. /TASS/. The process of normalization of Cuban-US relations will be long, with the main obstacle being the economic blockade of the island country, Cuban Ambassador to Russia Emilio Losada Garcia said on Friday.

"The process of normalization of relations between our countries will be long. The main obstacle is US’ [economic] blockade of Cuba. The blockade stays in place, nothing has yet changed since December 17, when [US] President Barack Obama and [Cuban] President Raul Castro announced their plans to restore diplomatic relations," Garcia said.

The diplomat added that another hurdle in the way of restoring diplomatic relations is the fact that Cuba still remains on the [US] list of countries sponsoring terrorism. "This is a big obstacle for full normalization of relations between the countries," Garcia stressed.

There are several issues that need to be solved before the bilateral relations between Washington and Havana are restored. "One more thing — our consulates in Washington cannot conduct banking transactions. Another thing — illegal presence of Guantanamo base on Cuba. All these issues need to be solved," the ambassador stressed.

Normalization of US-Cuban relations

On December 17, 2014, US President Barack Obama made public the plans to open a new chapter in relations with Cuba. He admitted that the policy of isolation of the Freedom Island for more than five decades had not produced the desired results and said the trade embargo against Havana would be mitigated.

Full abolition of sanctions requires Congressional approval.

On the same day, Raul Castro confirmed that Cuba and the US had agreed to resume diplomatic relations. He stressed Havana’s abidance by "a respectful dialogue based on the principle of sovereign equality." He called on Washington to lift the trade and economic blockade, which Cuba has lived under since 1961.

By January 27, US financial institutions have received the right to open corresponding bank accounts in Cuba and to work with Cuban companies located outside of the island. Also, trips to Cuba have been made easier for some categories of US citizens and workers of certain organizations. Opportunities for Cuban-US collaboration in telecommunications and trade have expanded as well.

However, Fidel Castro, who addressed Cuban students with a letter on January 27, said he does not trust the US policies and he has not exchanged a single word with the Americans, although this does not mean at all a rejection of peaceful resolution of military conflicts or removal of military threats.

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