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Cuba blames US for impasse over Americas summit

10 march 2012, 16:36
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. ©AFP
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. ©AFP
Cuba on Thursday denounced US opposition to its attendance at next month's Summit of the Americas, and thanked host country Colombia for trying to find a compromise under which it could take part, AFP reports.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Havana's absence from the event was "unacceptable and unjustifiable."

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had traveled to the Cuban capital for talks to resolve the dispute. He left Wednesday, expressing regret at being unable to break the impasse.

Santos said no "consensus" had been reached. Rodriguez said he interpreted that to mean that Washington continues to adamantly oppose Cuba's participation in the meeting.

"We all understand that consensus in this case means approval from Washington," Rodriguez told reporters, expressing his appreciation for Bogota's efforts on Cuba's behalf.

Presidents from across the hemisphere, including US President Barack Obama, are expected at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

The summit is an event closely linked to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), a group that expelled Cuba in 1962. The expulsion was rescinded in 2009, but Cuba has refused to return.

By re-joining the OAS, Cuba's communist regime would have to accept the group's charter, which states that each member recognizes "that representative democracy is indispensable for the stability, peace, and development of the region," and that one of the OAS's purposes "is to promote and consolidate representative democracy."

Cuba has normalized ties with all nations in the region except the United States, and has participated in other high-level regional events such as the Ibero-American Summit.

In Bogota, Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said Thursday that Cuba's participation in future Summits of the Americas would be placed on the agenda for discussion.

The issue would be discussed publicly -- and not privately, as previously planned -- following a request from Havana, she said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mike Hammer was non-committal about whether inviting Cuba would be a summit topic.

"Let's see what is discussed," he said, at the department's first-ever press briefing given in Spanish.

The talks in Havana this week -- which included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- were aimed at dissuading leftist countries from boycotting the regional meeting, amid the controversy over whether Cuba should be invited.

In February, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa called for leftist Latin American nations belonging to the ALBA, a Venezuela-backed regional group, to boycott the summit if Cuba is not invited.

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