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Lifting 25 Mile Rule on Cuban Diplomats Being Negotiated, State Dept Tells ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

WASHINGTON, March 26 -- As talks proceed between Cuba and the US, including in Havana on telecommunications, Inner City Press on March 26 asked State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke about US limitations on Cuban diplomats. From the State Department transcript:

Inner City Press:  Cuba has complained that its diplomats accredited to the UN in New York are not allowed to go more than 25 miles outside of the city or from Columbus Circle.  And I wanted to know whether this restriction is one of the things that’s being negotiated.  Is it considered being lifted?  Is it – where does it stand, and how do – and what’s the U.S. – given that generally people accredited to the UN can travel freely, how does the U.S. justify it?
MR. RATHKE:  Well, we’ve said from the very start of our rounds of talks with the Cuban Government that one of the topics we want to discuss is the ability of American diplomats in Cuba to move around freely and, of course, the Cubans have a similar concern.  I’m not going to get into the state of those discussions, but that’s clearly a topic that we’ve been talking about over the last few rounds.

  Rathke went on to say it is part of the negotiations.

 Back on March 13, after Cuba came out in strong defense of Venezuela after US President Obama's executive order, the US was disappointed but not surprised, a senior State Department official told reporters on a background call.

   Inner City Press wondered from the UN, what of the US' requirement that Cuban diplomats -- and even Cuban UN staff members -- must stay without 25 miles of Columbus Circle in Manhattan?

  Will that restriction, which seems contrary to the Host Country Agreement between the US and UN and the Vienna Conventions, be removed?

   Currently in charge of the US' “interest section” is Jeffrey Delaurentis, formerly with the US Mission to the UN. What does he say about the 25 mile restriction? And how might he fare in a nomination process in the US Senate? Watch this site.


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