Cuba's President Meets US Senator amid Tense Relations

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel met US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who is on a trip to Havana to discuss tense bilateral relations and other “matters of common interest”, a report said.

Cuba's President Meets US Senator amid Tense Relations

Corker, a Republican but also a frequent critic of US President Donald Trump, is the highest-ranking US official that Diaz-Canel has met since succeeding Raul Castro as president in April, Reuters reported on Friday.

Corker is due to retire from the Senate later this year.

Relations between the old Cold War foes have deteriorated over the past year due to Trump’s hostile stance on the Communist-run island and what the United States has called a spate of “health attacks” on its diplomats in Havana.

Cuba denies any involvement and government officials have said they believe there were never any attacks, which they described as a pretext to justify conflict.

Diaz-Canel was expected to travel to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly next week but said in an interview broadcast on Sunday he could not talk with Trump as long as his administration kept its “abnormal” attitude toward the island.

The Trump administration has tightened the trade and travel embargo on Cuba and sharply reduced embassy staffing in Havana from more than 50 to a maximum 18.

Cuba’s ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma said the top US top diplomat in Cuba, Mara Tekach, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, and the ministry’s director of US affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cossio also participated in Thursday’s meeting.

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