Mexico and Canada can help the United States reestablish relations with Cuba, said Secretary of State John Kerry in Boston on Saturday (Jan. 31), after meeting with the foreign ministers of the two countries.
“I note that Cuba will be a participant at the Summit [of the Americas].” Kerry said. “Our new approach to Cuba will empower the Cuban people to determine their own future, and we look forward to working with Mexico, Canada and the inter-American community to advance respect for human rights in Cuba.”
The Summit — the seventh of its kind — will be held April 10-11 in Panama. It will be the first attended by Cuba.
Meeting with Kerry on Saturday were foreign ministers John Baird of Canada and José Antonio Meade of Mexico. A statement from the State Department said that they “reviewed efforts to support greater North American competitiveness, advance leadership on energy and climate change, enhance our security cooperation, cooperate on hemispheric priorities, and strengthen education initiatives throughout North America.”
“Mexico is a very important interlocutor [..] because it recently held conversations with Cuban functionaries with regard to this process of rapprochement,” Kerry said, and “could be useful and important, explaining [to the Cuban government] what we’re trying to do — and not do — and help the process to be smooth and effective.”
Kerry hailed the support that the new U.S. policy toward Cuba has received from other countries in the Americas “perhaps with the exception of one that is not very happy if we start to build relations with others in the region.”
He did not identify the grudging country but it’s probably Russia, which, on the two days that the rapprochement negotiations were held in Cuba, stationed an intelligence gathering ship in Port of Havana.
“It is best for Latin America if the United States and Cuba can find a way to reduce the tensions and not divide the [other] nations,” Kerry said.
Participating in the talks and sitting to Kerry’s right was Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State of Western Hemisphere Affairs and the U.S. negotiator at the diplomatic talks in Havana last week.
In a statement that may in the future apply also to Cuba, the U.S. Secretary of State said:
“It is more than fair to say that we are neighbors who act as neighbors should, and we are three nations not separated but in fact brought together by peaceful borders and close family ties. We are working as partners to build a safe, sustainable and prosperous North America and inter-American community, and combine our strengths in order to deal with a host of global challenges.”
[Photo at top show from left, John Baird of Canada; John Kerry of the U.S.; José Antonio Meade of Mexico.]