OAS 'agrees to let Cuba rejoin'

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Foreign ministers of the Organization of American States have voted to lift Cuba's suspension, apparently paving the way for it to rejoin the group.

Cuba was suspended from the 34-member OAS in 1962 over its "incompatible" adherence to Marxism-Leninism.

The US secretary of state, who left Honduras before the vote, had urged democratic reforms as a condition.

The move came hours after former president Fidel Castro again said Cuba had no interest in rejoining the OAS.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Fander Falconi, said the decision was made "without conditions" but that it set mechanisms for Cuba's return including its agreement to comply with OAS conventions on human rights and other issues.

Clarifying terms

The group's foreign ministers and ambassadors, who met in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, were expected to clarify the terms of their agreement in the coming hours.

Immediately following the announcement, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said: "The Cold War has ended this day in San Pedro Sula."

The news came as former Cuban leader Fidel Castro reiterated that Cuba had no desire to rejoin.

Writing in state newspapers on Wednesday, he said the OAS should not exist and historically had "opened the doors to the Trojan horse" of the US to "wreak havoc in Latin America".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Honduras before the final vote, saying the organisation had been unable to reach consensus on Cuba.

While the US looked forward to Cuba rejoining the group eventually, she said on the first day of the summit, "membership in the OAS must come with responsibilities".

"It's not about reliving the past," she added. "It's about the future and being true to the founding principles of this organisation."

Many Latin American countries have pushed to readmit Cuba without preconditions, but the US wants Havana to undertake democratic reforms as a condition of re-admission.

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has sought to ease tension between the US and Cuba, including ending restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting and sending money to relatives.

Washington and Havana have also agreed to resume regular talks on migration issues.

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