WASHINGTON - Cuba said Tuesday it expects to arrive at four agreements with the U.S. in the short term, including one that would restore regular flights between the two countries and another that would resume the postal service.
The bilateral commission formed after the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries met for the second time Tuesday in Washington and scheduled a new session for February 2016 in Havana, both governments said after the meeting.
"Both sides examined the steps taken so far, which could lead to the adoption of concrete agreements in areas of mutual benefit in the short term, such as regular flights between the two countries, protection of the environment, direct postal mail and the confrontation of drug-trafficking," said the Cuban foreign ministry.
U.S. and Cuba held their first round of formal talks in September in Havana on the normalization of air service between the two countries, a step that is highly anticipated by major U.S. airlines, which have been pushing the government for an agreement before the end of the year.
However, since Americans are forbidden from traveling as tourists to Cuba due to a veto by the U.S. Congress, the resumption of commercial flights to the island is expected to benefit only a reduced group of citizens.
Although the economic embargo does not feature in the agenda outlined in September for the bilateral commission, Cuba raised the issue once again in the meeting with the U.S. Department of State Tuesday.
"The Cuban side insisted, as a priority, on the need to lift the blockade," whose elimination "is essential for the normalization of relations," the Cuban foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry also called for a solution to the issues of the "illegal occupation of a part of Cuban territory by the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, the continuation of illegal radio and television transmissions from the U.S. to Cuba, and the programs of destabilization and subversion of the Cuban constitutional order."
The bilateral commission reviewed "progress on shared priorities, including regulatory issues, telecommunications, claims, environmental protection, human trafficking, human rights, migration, and law enforcement," according to a statement by the U.S. Department of State.
The delegations also scheduled other talks that will be held shortly to discuss immigration and trafficking in people and spoke about possible visits of officials of both countries and the possibility of expanding cooperation to health, the Cuban ministry added.