The United States Postal Service, along with the U. S. Government and the communist government of Cuba, resumed talks this week to negotiate USPS supplying direct mail service between the countries. The State Department hinted the move might help the failing government agency with its money problems.
The Associated Press reported Monday morning that a “U.S. Official” confirmed the United States is looking to resume the mail service which has been out of commission since 1963:
U.S. and Cuban diplomats and postal representatives will meet in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday for technical talks aimed at ending a 50-year suspension in direct mail between the United States and the communist island. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the matter publicly before Congress is notified. Lawmakers were to be notified of the meetings starting Monday morning, the official said.
The resumption in talks does not signify any change in the Obama administration’s Cuba policy, the official said, stressing that the discussions are taking place in the context of the Cuba Democracy Act of 1992 and are consistent with the U.S. interest “in promoting the free flow of information to, from and within Cuba.”
The State Department confirmed the talks will take place this week. “This is something we feel is good for us,” Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “But it’s not meant to be a signal of anything or indicate a change in policy.”
When asked if the bankrupt Postal Service is in any position to provide these kind of services, Psaki said she “assumed” that “more revenue” would be generated because more stamps would be used.
USPS lost $16 Billion in 2012 and announced at the beginning of this year a change of services that are set to begin this summer.
Read the transcript from the State Department below:
QUESTION: All right. And then if there’s nothing else on North Korea, I just want to nail down the postal talks with Cuba.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you expect anything out of this round or is this really not – is this just – in other words, if these two days of talks are a success, there won’t be direct mail service immediately, I presume, but maybe I’m wrong, so could you –
MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question on the timeline. Just to give you a little bit of history here, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 states that, quote, “The United States Postal Service shall take such actions as are necessary to provide direct mail service to and from Cuba.” So this is – as you mentioned, on June 18th and 19th – well, you didn’t mention the dates, but so everybody knows, representatives from the Department of State and the United States Postal Service will meet with representatives from the Government of Cuba for a technical discussion on reestablishing direct transportation of mail. The reason we’re doing this is because it’s, of course, good for the Cuban people. This is something we feel is good for us. But it’s not meant to be a signal of anything or indicate a change in policy.
QUESTION: Are those talks here or in –
MS. PSAKI: In terms of the exact location, I’m not sure if they’re at the Department of State or if they’re just somewhere else in the –
QUESTION: Could we go to Syria?
QUESTION: Well, can we –
MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s finish Cuba.
QUESTION: Are those talks exclusively on the mail service?
MS. PSAKI: That is with the United States Postal Service. That’s their purview.
QUESTION: But I’m saying is it mainly about the – is there anything going to come up about Mr. Gross?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to predict. There are issues that are, of course, raised on both sides. As you know, this is an issue that has been raised at the highest levels from the United States, but given these are talks with the Postal Service, I would expect that will be the focus.
QUESTION: You don’t consider that the highest level?
MS. PSAKI: Well – Brad, having fun on your last day? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Just one more. I mean, is the U.S. Postal Service in any kind of position to make any kind of deals or agreements with Cuba? I mean, this is an organization that is essentially going broke, and I’m just curious. Is –
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that’s combining two different things, in my opinion. This has been – we have had – I read off the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992.
MS. PSAKI: So they’re simply allowing mail to travel, which is – I would assume provides them with more revenue, with more stamps used.
QUESTION: Considering that – well, all right, exactly. So in other words, this could actually help the Postal Union’s budget if they are able to –
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to go too far on it, but – I don’t want to go too far, Matt, but it’s more people using their services.
QUESTION: Jen, a clarification on that too. What is the genesis of this? I mean, how did these talks actually come about? Who asked for them?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is something that the U.S. has felt would be a positive step for the Cuban people. We felt it was in our interests. In terms of who specifically asked for it, I don’t have that level of detail, but it’s just something that we felt it was – it would be positive moving forward.
QUESTION: But basically, the U.S. asked for it?
MS. PSAKI: I would have to check on that for you, but it’s something, again, that we are very supportive of and we are, of course, helping direct here.
QUESTION: Isn’t it a continuation of the talks from 2009 that were on the same subject?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know if I’d call it a continuation because it’s been a number of years, but yes, it’s on the same subject, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to move things forward.
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