Raul Castro: Cuba, US to Exchange Ambassadors on 29 May

This article originally appeared on TeleSUR | Tuesday, 12 May 2015 | Click here for original article

Speaking to reporters in Havana’s airport to see off visiting French President Francois Hollande Tuesday, Cuban leader Raul Castro said his country would exchange ambassadors with the United States at the end of May.

The Cuban president confirmed that once the U.S. removed Cuba from its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, both governments would designate ambassadors. The 45-day waiting period for Cuba to be removed from the controversial list – which U.S. President Barack Obama announce in April – ends May 29.

However, President Castro added that he maintains concerns about the process of reestablishing relations with the United States given what Havana considers to be "illegal" activities on behalf of U.S. diplomats on the island, including encouraging and providing resources to opposition figures and groups.

Cuba has long said that Washington used its limited diplomatic mission support opposition groups, many of whom are funded by the United States through the National Endowment for Democracy and United States Agency for International Development.

The Cuban leader also stated that the United States must end its economic blockade and its occupation of Guantanamo before full relations are restored.

"The blockade has to be fully removed and Guantanamo should be returned," President Castro said.

In December, Raul Castro and President Obama announced their countries would work toward a restoration of diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of animosity.

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