Biden officials consider inviting Cuban representative to Americas summit

Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, Cuba

© APA | Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, Cuba's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

# 20 May 2022 23:41 (UTC +04:00)

Biden administration officials are considering inviting a Cuban representative to the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas, a person familiar with the matter said, as Washington scrambled to head off a potentially embarrassing boycott by some regional leaders, APA reports citing Reuters.

Discussion has focused on allowing a Cuban presence at the next month's Los Angeles summit below the level of the country's president or foreign minister, but it is at an early stage and no decision has been made, the source told Reuters on Friday.

President Joe Biden's aides were weighing the idea as his administration began sending out invitations for the summit. But an administration official declined to say what countries were on the list or whether the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua would be excluded.

A growing number of leaders, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have threatened to skip the summit unless all countries in the region are allowed to attend.

The prospect for summit no-shows risks diplomatic failure for Biden, whose aides have hoped the summit, held very three or four years, would be a chance to reassert Washington's commitment to a region it is often accused of neglecting.

It was unclear whether Communist-ruled Cuba, which participated at the head of state level in the last two summits in 2015 and 2018 and has blasted Washington for its handling of the June 6-10 gathering, would even accept an invitation for lower-level observer status. The Associated Press first reported that the idea was under consideration.

The Biden administration has signaled for weeks that it could exclude the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying they did not show respect for democracy.

But faced with strong pushback from some Latin American and Caribbean countries, the White House had held off on sending out invitations and refused to release an official participants list.

A top Cuban diplomat told Reuters the United States was making a "desperate effort" to impose its will on the rest of the Western Hemisphere by determining which countries should be invited.

Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, in a written statement, said such a decision was a "reflection of American contempt for our region."

It was a sharp rebuke to comments on Thursday from Kerri Hannan, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, accusing Cuba of using the summit controversy to distract from allegations of human rights abuses at home.

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