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US, Cuba to re-establish diplomatic ties on Monday

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Washington: The US and Cuba will on Monday re-establish diplomatic relations after half a century of enmity.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez will make a historic visit to Washington for a ceremony, after which he will meet his US counterpart John Kerry.

Seven months after US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro surprised the world by announcing a process of bilateral rapprochement, the two governments will put an end to decades of hostility by reopening their diplomatic headquarters and resuming the ties broken in 1961 and kept on ice ever since.

Rodriguez will attend the ceremony to reopen the Cuban embassy, a building constructed in 1917 some three km from the White House that currently houses the Cuban Interests Section, the low-profile diplomatic mission established – along with its US counterpart in Havana – in 1977.

The delegation headed by Rodriguez will include 30 people, among them former diplomats and representatives from the cultural, education, healthcare and scientific sectors, along with the Cuban Catholic Church and other organisations.

Some 500 Americans have been invited to the ceremony, including lawmakers, government officials and Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Roberta Jacobson.

After the ceremony, Rodriguez will travel to the State Department to meet Kerry, their second official meeting after their get-together in Panama on the eve of the Summit of the Americas last April.

The US is holding off on its ceremony to open its own embassy in Havana until Kerry visits the Cuban capital, but no date has been fixed for that trip yet.

The US flag will not wave over the embassy until Kerry officially inaugurates the diplomatic mission.

The current heads of the Cuban and US Interests Sections, Jose Ramon Cabanas and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, respectively, will become the charges d’affaires at both missions until the governments can name ambassadors.

(IANS)

 

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China, US Set To Take Action Against Each Other

US business executives are now bracing for further retaliation from China due to Meng's arrest

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President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting, Dec. 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. VOA

China and the US are set to take action against each other as tensions escalate over trade, cyber hacking and espionage as senior American law enforcement officials identified Beijing as the most serious threat to Washington’s national security, officials said.

China’s methods of non-traditional espionage, including their use of ordinary Chinese expatriates instead of spies at universities and businesses, and intellectual property theft, were explained by the officials from the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security who briefed US lawmakers on Wednesday, CNN reported.

“As the US proceeds a whole of society response to this threat, we must address the vulnerabilities within our system while preserving our values and the open, free and fair principles that have made us thrive,” E.W. Priestap, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Director of Counter-intelligence told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“What hangs in the balance is not just the future of the US, but the future of the world.”

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) top national security official told lawmakers on Wednesday the administration was reacting to China’s “steadily increasing” economic espionage activity, which costs the US an estimated $225 billion a year.

From 2011 to 2018, more than 90 per cent of the DOJ’s cases alleging economic espionage by a state have involved China, and more than two-thirds of trade secret thefts have a nexus to China, Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.

Donald Trump, democrats, government,, pakistan
U.S. President Donald Trump. VOA

“From underwater drones and autonomous vehicles to critical chemical compounds and inbred corn seeds, China has targeted advanced technology across sectors that align with China’s publicly announced strategic goals,” Demers said. “The play book is simple: rob, replicate and replace.”

Priestap and his colleagues testified hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in an interview with Fox News that the US believes Beijing was behind the massive cyber-attack on the Marriott hotel chain, CNN reported.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the assault was part of a broader Chinese operation that also targeted health insurers and the security clearance files of millions of Americans.

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Those disclosures came a day after President Donald Trump said that he would be willing to use Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Canada for violating US sanctions on Iran as a bargaining chip in his trade war with Beijing, which for now is in a 90-day pause.

A Canadian judge on Tuesday night granted Meng a $7.5 million bail, while she awaits extradition to the US.

US business executives are now bracing for further retaliation from China due to Meng’s arrest. (IANS)