Really, I don't mind a cautious approach to a totalitarian state -- engagement is often wise -- but we should try to be coherent.
We just look weak and incoherent.
The Canadian Press
Thu 28 May 2009
Section: National General News
Byline: BY JENNIFER DITCHBURN
OTTAWA_ Canada would ``love'' Cuba to rejoin the Organization of American States, says junior foreign minister *Peter* *Kent*.
The statement is a shift from the more circumspect position the Conservative government has taken recently toward lifting the 47-year-old suspension on the communist nation.
Kent, minister of state for the Americas, will represent Canada at the OAS general assembly in Honduras next week.
``Canada's position is that like virtually every member of the OAS, we would love to see Cuba re-enter hemispheric affairs at all levels,'' Kent said Thursday.
But he added that re-entry will be conditional on upholding the tenets of the InterAmerican Democratic Charter, including the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law.
Canada will back a last-minute U.S. resolution to open a dialogue with Cuba about its ``eventual reintegration'' into the inter-American system.
Kent will push for members to come to a consensus on issues, rather than hold tension-filled votes.
Canada-Cuba relations have experience a chill over the past couple of months.
A trip Kent had scheduled to Havana for mid-May was abruptly cancelled by the Cubans after Prime Minister Stephen Harper described himself as a ``anti-communist Conservative,'' and Kent said publicly that he would press the government on human rights.
Kent said reports of a rift were exaggerated, and that's he's working on a new date for the trip.
``Canada does not want to impose anything on Cuba,'' Kent said.
``We've got a more than six-decade old relationship, we are dealing with the government of Cuba on any number of levels...We're simply prepared to assist in any way that we can to Cuba's re-entry into affairs of the hemisphere at any level.''
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