First formal meet in 50 years
THIS is the first high level meeting between two chief diplomats of the United States (US) and Cuba since 1958. It is being heralded as the first of many more meetings that could pave the way for a normalisation of relations between these two nations. President Obama echoed these sentiments in the two-day international summit that was recently held in Panama. That US Secretary of State John Kerry met with his counterpart, Cuban foreign minister in itself shows how serious the intent is from the Americans. The road ahead is rocky. There will be significant obstacles placed in President Obama's path to a thawing of relations with Cuba. The Cubans want to be taken off the terror list where it was placed in 1982 for alleged harbouring of militant elements and which restricted the country's access to the global financial system. But more importantly, it wants the embargo placed upon the island that has left it economically isolated for decades, lifted.
To what end the US president will be able to deliver on these demands is of course open to debate. Although polls may reflect a majority of Americans wanting a thawing of relations which is considered by many to be a relic of the cold war, the powerful anti-Castro lobby in US politics may have other ideas. Regardless of the outcome of talks, the fact that the meeting has taken place will go down in history as a great gesture of peace by the most powerful nation on earth towards the people of Cuba.