As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surprise Talks With Cuba

Tomorrow the US and other Western countries meet with Iran for diplomatic talks made more difficult by the disclosure of a nuclear facility in Qom. There are lots of reasons to be skeptical of the information out there about the facility, but nonetheless, it at least hasn't stopped the talks, although it's probably crippled them. On a couple other fronts, diplomatic actions are moving forward. North Korea has been offered direct bilateral talks on ending their nuclear program, as a preface to bringing them back into the six-party fold. That's further than we've gone with the DPRK in close to a decade, and perhaps could yield some substantive results. Meanwhile, a US diplomat held unscheduled talks with the Cuban government yesterday:

NEW YORK - A senior American diplomat has held unannounced, high-level talks in Havana with the Cuban government, three State Department officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday, raising hopes for a thaw in long-icy relations.

The talks were the first of their kind in years between representatives of the U.S. and Cuban governments, the bitter Cold War rivals among whom trust appears to be gradually building.

Bisa Williams, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, met with Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez, visited an area affected by hurricanes in the Western province of Pinar del Rio and toured a government agricultural facility during a six-day trip to Cuba this month, the officials told AP [...]

One U.S. official described the talks as "respectful" and said they were more significant for having taken place, than for any substantive breakthroughs between the two sides, which have been at odds since shortly after former Cuban leader Fidel Castro marched into Havana on New Year's Day 1959.

"We were going over ground we haven't gone over for a long time," said the official. "Each side was taking advantage of the opportunity to size each other up."

I've said before that Cuba is the low-hanging fruit on the international diplomacy tree. The Obama Administration could pick up a quick and easy victory toward peace there if they just engaged. This unannounced set of talks is a sign that they might feel the same way.

Labels: , , , , ,