Cuba a Low-Key Presence at US-Jamaican Security Conference
By KATE CHAPPELL, ASSOCIATED PRESS KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jan 29, 2016,
4:34 PM ET
A delegation from Cuba has taken part for the first time in a Caribbean
regional security conference co-hosted by the United States. But
officials sought to downplay their participation as the four-day event
came to a close Friday in the Jamaican capital.
Maj. Gen. Antony Bertram Anderson of the Jamaica Defense Force, which
co-hosted the event with U.S. Southern Command, started a closing news
conference by thanking the U.S. for agreeing to invite Cuba for the
first time to the annual event and the Cubans for sending a delegation.
He noted, however, that their presence was not a focus of attention.
"They were at the table like everybody else," Anderson said. "It was
quite a normal thing. It is the first time but it is what it is. They
are a regional country."
U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, the new commander of Miami-based Southern
Command, said Cuba was one of the 18 countries from across the region
taking part in discussions of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief
and other challenges.
"We share challenges, all of the countries across this region," Tidd
said. "Cuba is one of those countries in this region. And so I believe
in the future we'll have opportunities to find ways to work together."
Later, Army Col. Lisa Garcia, a Southern Command spokeswoman, said that
Jamaica had technically issued the invitation since it was the host
country and that Tidd did not mention the Cuban participation in his
official closing remarks because "the conference was about more than
Cuba; it was about all the Caribbean nations."
The admiral said the subject of the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, did not come up. The base is the oldest U.S. overseas military
outpost and the Cubans have long demanded its return. President Barack
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored relations in December
2014 and relations have been improving but the U.S. has said returning
Guantanamo is not on the table.
The Cuban delegation was led by Gustavo Machin Gomez, deputy director
general of the U.S. department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It
also included an official with the Cuban coast guard and the country's
ambassador to Jamaica.
Source: Cuba a Low-Key Presence at US-Jamaican Security Conference - ABC