Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 9th 2014 Contents HAVANA---Cuban and US representatives
are set to meet in Havana for a new round
of restarted migration talks today, a signal
of the longtime Cold War foes recent will-
ingness to engage in areas of mutual inter-
est but unlikely to be a harbinger of a major
thaw in relations.
The meetings are supposed to be held
every six months to discuss the implemen-
tation of 1990s accords under which the
United States agreed to issue 20,000 immi-
gration visas annually to Cubans.
"Under the Accords, both governments
pledge to promote safe, legal and orderly
migration between Cuba and the United
States. The agenda for the talks reflects
longstanding US priorities on Cuba migration
issues," the US State Department said in a
brief statement. "This does not represent
any change in policy towards Cuba."
Cuban authorities did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
In the past, the talks have also been used
as opportunities to broach other topics---a
rare chance for dialogue between nations
that do not have full diplomatic ties and
have been at each other s throats since short-
ly after the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
The migration talks, along with separate
discussions aimed restarting direct mail
service, were suspended in 2011 after the
arrest of US government subcontractor Alan
Gross in Cuba in 2009.
Gross was accused of acting against
Cuba s national sovereignty and sentenced
to 15 years. He maintains that his work set-
ting up hard-to-detect Internet networks
for the island s Jewish community posed
no threat to the state.
His imprisonment remains a major point of con-
tention between Havana and Washington. But diplo-
mats say privately that the Obama administration
decided early last year not to let the case stand in
the way of all engagement.
Representatives of the two governments met mul-
tiple times in 2013, and diplomats on both sides say
they enjoy cordial personal relationships with their
The most recent discussions in Havana in Sep-
tember focused on mail delivery. The State Department
called the talks "fruitful" and Cuba called them
"respectful," though no deal has yet been struck.
One issue that may come up this week is Cuba s
recent banking woes at its diplomatic missions in
Washington and at the United Nations. The institution
that had processed Cuba s diplomatic banking in the
United States moved to sever the relationship in late
2013, prompting Cuba to suspend nearly all consular
services in the country.
The State Department says it has been working
with Cuba to try to resolve the matter. (AP)
US, Cuba to hold migration talks in Havana
NEW DELHI---India chipped away at America s
diplomatic perks yesterday, ordering the envoys to
obey local traffic laws and warning that a popular
US Embassy club violates diplomatic law because
it is open to outsiders.
The moves were the latest in a campaign to exert
pressure on the US following the arrest and strip
search last month of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian
diplomat based in New York City. Indian officials
have called the strip search barbaric and unneces-
Khobragade, 39, is accused of paying her Indian
maid less than the US minimum wage and lying
about it on a visa application. She pleaded not guilty
to fraud charges and is free on bail.
The case has caused an outcry in India, where the
idea of an educated, middle-class woman facing a
strip search is seen as outrageous and heavy-handed.
India has unleashed a steady stream of retaliatory
measures. Some of the moves, such as preventing
the American Center from screening movies, are seen
as little more than needling the US.
But other actions have raised some alarm, including
the removal of concrete traffic barriers around the
US Embassy and revoking diplomats ID cards.
Yesterday, the Press Trust of India news agency
reported that India ordered the US to stop all "com-
mercial activities" by January 16 at the American
Community Support Association club. The club has
a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, swimming pool and
India says the fact that non-diplomats can join
the club, at a cost of more than $1,300 per year, vio-
lates the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rela-
US Embassy officials had no comment.
PTI also reported that New Delhi warned that US
Embassy vehicles would not be immune to penalties
for traffic offences such as unauthorised parking and
running red lights.
Khobragade was arrested December 13 and was
strip-searched in custody, as is common practice
according to the US Marshals. But anger is still smol-
dering in India more than a month after the arrest.
US prosecutors and lawyers for Khobragade are at
odds over a possible plea deal. (AP)
India takes aim
at privileges held
Links Archive January 8th 2014 January 10th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page