By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. April 20, 2022: The U.S. and Cuban officials held their highest-level of bilateral talks since Joe Biden became president today with immigration as the the main topic of discussion.
The move came after Washington announced last month that it was partially reopening its consulate in Havana, which had been closed since 2017 following alleged “sonic attacks.”
Talks focused on the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords at a time tens of thousands of people are leaving the island to come to the U.S.
The U.S. State Department said the bilateral discussions on migration reflect a “commitment by both countries to regularly review the implementation of the Accords.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Emily Mendrala led the U.S. interagency delegation, and Cuba’s Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio led the Cuban delegation.
These discussions represent the first Migration Accord talks between the United States and Cuba since 2018.
The U.S. delegation highlighted areas of successful cooperation on migration, while also identifying issues that have been obstacles to fulfilling the goals of the Accords.
The United States also addressed consular services at U.S. Embassy Havana, to include resumption of immigrant visa services on a limited basis starting in May, current American citizen services, and current issuance of emergency non-immigrant visas.
“Enabling safe, legal, and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States remains a mutual interest between the United States and Cuba and is consistent with U.S. interests in fostering family reunification and promoting greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba,” the State Department said in a statement today.
The meeting came as Cuban born Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said Wednesday at a press conference after a regional meeting in Panama to tackle migration challenges in the Western Hemisphere that the US is exploring the possibility of resuming the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords as a “commitment to legal, orderly and humane pathways so individuals, including Cubans, do not take, for example, to the seas, which is an extraordinarily perilous journey.”