US' Kerry not planning to meet Cuba's Castro during trip
America's top diplomat to meet with dissidents at reception following embassy opening

Secretary of State John Kerry is not scheduled to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, or his brother and longtime strongman, Fidel, during an upcoming visit to the island nation, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

"That is not currently envisioned on the secretary’s schedule,” according to the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

But Kerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez during his visit to Havana.

America’s top diplomat will travel to Cuba for the ceremonial opening of Washington’s embassy in Havana on Friday. He will be the first Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years.

The U.S. and Cuba severed diplomatic ties 54 years ago.

The embassy opening is a major milestone in the restoration of full diplomatic relations that Cuba and the U.S. announced last December.

The event will largely be an intimate "government to government” event, and will not include Cuban dissidents.

The official said that is due to space constraints rather than political pressures from the Cuban government.

"The Cubans had no say over the invitations to our events,” the official said, "just as we had no say in who they invited to their opening of their embassy.”

Later in the day, there will be a larger reception at the Chief of Mission’s residence, during which Kerry plans to meet with Cuban dissidents.

"The secretary plans obviously to meet with a broad range of civil society throughout the day,” the official said, declining to name any dissidents who Kerry will meet. "I can’t confirm exactly who the secretary may or may not speak with at the reception, but he is certainly hoping to speak with as many people as possible during a relatively compressed period of time, among them some of the dissidents.”

Washington’s embassy has been opened since July 20, but the U.S.’s top diplomat hadn’t been able to travel to the island nation to formally open the facility due to a busy schedule.

Last Modified: 2015-08-13 08:54:52
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