U.S. lawmakers meet with Cardinal Ortega, Cuban legislators

20 de febrero de 2015 12:16 AM

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Havana, Feb 19 (EFE).- A delegation of U.S. congressmen headed by Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi met on Thursday with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the Catholic Church's top official in Cuba, and with lawmakers from the Cuban National Assembly on the last day of their three-day official visit to the communist island.

The group of Democratic lawmakers, who arrived on the island last Tuesday, on Thursday met with the vice president of the National Assembly, Ana Maria Machado, and with about 20 members of the country's unicameral parliament.

"During the meeting, we exchanged views about the actions taken by President Obama and President Raul Castro," said Pelosi at a press conference Thursday in Havana. "We agreed to continue our interparliamentary dialogue on areas of agreement and disagreement."

The lawmakers accompanying her are Eliot Engel, Nydia Velazquez and Steve Israel (all of New York), Jim McGovern (Massachusetts), Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut), Collin Peterson (Minnesota), Anna Eshoo (California) and David Cicilline (Rhode Island).

At the joint press conference, all the legislators said they were in favor of removing Cuba from the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism and lifting the trade embargo on the island, along with emphasizing agriculture and telecommunications as the areas in which bilateral trade can first be developed between the two countries.

The delegation, the first from the U.S. lower house of Congress to travel to the island since the move to reestablish relations was announced in mid-December, also met on Wednesday with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and with the head of the team negotiating the resumption of ties with the United States, Josefina Vidal.

At that meeting, "matters of interest regarding the current context of links between the two countries were discussed, including the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, the opening of embassies, as well as the debate in Congress to lift the economic blockade imposed on Cuba for more than half a century," the island's media reported.

During their visit, the lawmakers also made contacts with small businessmen from the island's budding private sector and representatives of civil society, and they visited the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana.

The lawmakers' visit to Cuba comes a week before the U.S. and Cuban teams are to hold a second round of talks on the reestablishment of diplomatic relations on Feb. 27 in Washington, with the opening of embassies to be the main issue on the agenda.

Fuente: eleconomistaamerica.com

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