WASHINGTON With Latin American countries pushing hard for Cuba's re-entry into the Organization of American States, U.S. officials said on Wednesday they would be willing to talk about the move if the communist state adopts democratic principles.
The suggestion, included in a resolution submitted to a council meeting of the hemispheric group, reaffirmed a long-standing U.S. position on Cuba but also offered hints of the growing willingness for a dialogue with Havana.
"Some of the circumstances since Cuba's suspension from full participation in the Organization of American States may have changed," the U.S. resolution said, noting a "frank and open dialogue" was a hallmark of multilateral relations.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the OAS general assembly on Tuesday in Honduras, where a majority of the group's 34 members are likely to support Cuba's re-entry but no vote is expected.
The OAS council appointed a task force to evaluate the U.S. proposal and two others that could more directly lead to reinstatement of Cuba, suspended from the OAS in 1962.
Most Latin American countries have restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and have pushed for an end to the decades-old U.S. embargo.
Clinton told Congress last week that the United States would not support Cuba's re-entry to the OAS until it could embrace the democratic principles outlined in the group's charter.
The U.S. resolution instructs the OAS council "to initiate a dialogue with the present government of Cuba regarding its eventual reintegration into the inter-American system consistent with the principles of sovereignty, independence, non-intervention, democracy."
Hector Morales, the U.S. representative to the group, said Cuba's re-entry into the OAS required a deliberate and well-considered process.
"It must and will depend more on what Cuba is prepared to do than on what concessions we as an organization are prepared to make," Morales said.
President Barack Obama has taken steps toward a more open relationship with Cuba, lifting restrictions two months ago on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island.
Last week, the Obama administration proposed the resumption of meetings on migration between the two countries, which were ended by former President George W. Bush in 2004.
But Obama has emphasized the need for Cuba to engage in democratic reforms before additional steps can be taken to ease or end the American embargo.
(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Will Dunham)