Held in Havana on May 16 last, the third meeting of the Cuba-United States Bilateral Commission allowed both sides to agree on a series of actions to advance the process of normalizing relations over the coming months.

Amongst the areas identified by the two countries for steps to be taken in are health, agriculture, the environment and meteorology, the fight against drug trafficking and oil-spill pollution responses.

Held in Havana on May 16 last, the third meeting of the Cuba-United States Bilateral Commission allowed both sides to agree on a series of actions to advance the process of normalizing relations over the coming months.The Cuban delegation, led by Josefina Vidal, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s director general for the United States and that of the U.S., led by State Department advisor Ambassador Kristie Kenney, agreed a series of high level meetings on both sides in the health and agriculture sectors.

Vidal outlined during a press conference to review the meeting that further expert meetings in the fields of hydrology, the environment, law enforcement and compliance and the battle against both people and drug trafficking would also be held.

Both sides agreed during the session to culminate the negotiations with the signing of new accords relating to the aforementioned sectors and others such as meteorology, seismology, protected land areas, search and rescue and responses to the contamination caused by the dumping of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits.

Vidal said that they also had proposed over the coming months on intellectual –including industrial – property, an issue of great interest to the Cuban side in terms of brand and patent protection.

The meeting, which came after those held in Havana in September 2015 and the following November in Washington, included a review by the delegations of progress made and results achieved over the past six months on agreements signed at the previous meetings.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry official said that there had been an increase in the number of official and high level visits in both directions and in technical and expert meetings. There had also been a rise in the number of bilateral instruments, including those relating to the re-establishment of regular flights and postal services.

She stressed however that such advance did not apply to the economic front because the economic, commercial and financial Blockade imposed on Cuba by Washington for more than fifty years remained fully in force.

This is why the host delegation again reiterated their insistence that the lifting of this punitive and unilateral sanction was a priority for the normalization of bilateral ties because it continued to affect the Cuban people and the links between the Island, the United States and third countries.

A day after the Bilateral Commission meeting, Cuban and U.S. authorities held the second round of talks between law compliance and enforcement agencies from the neighboring nations.

According to a note from the Cuban Foreign Office, the two sides agreed on the importance of cooperation and the development of bilateral instruments in this area.

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