And its important to understand also that aside from the Cuba issue, what we were able to accomplish here is, number one, get the ALBA countries to commit to broad instruments that they (inaudible) like the Inter-American Democratic Charter. But also we were able to strengthen the OAS as an institution, because one of the broad the bigger fears going into this is that a breakdown in talks here was going to provoke divisions in the different sub-regions of the hemisphere, but also within the OAS. And what we have done, I believe, is strengthen the OAS as an institution, and that is an important goal.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
OPE RATOR: The next question comes from Carol Giacomo with The New York Times. Your line is open.
QUESTION: My question has to do with the fact that I still dont see how you go forward here. If Cuba were to say tomorrow, We want to be members of the OAS, there are a lot of countries in the OAS who would immediately vote to include them. How I mean, I understand that you you know, you reference the charter and the other standards of the OAS that reflect democracy and human rights. But I mean, what if Cuba were to hold elections tomorrow and then come back to you and say, Well, we held elections, I mean, would that be enough of a marker to get them in? I mean, its not spelled out. Thats my question.
MR. RESTREPO: I think when you review the text of the resolution, youll see that a process is laid out. The process begins with what is a difficult decision for a Cuban Government that has spent 40 years railing against an institutio n because of its defense of democracy and individual human rights. They would have to swallow that to ask to get into the organization. And then a process consistent with the manner in which this organization functions, its practices, but more importantly, its principles and purposes, as defined in this resolution itself, would be the guide to its participation in the organization. I mean, those are clearly enumerated. There is reference to the fundamental instruments of the organization, and to democracy, security, human rights, self-determination, non-intervention, and development.
So there is a clear process here. There are practices that guide how the organization operates. One of those very important practices is the practice of consensus, and we have seen in this process how consensus can work. It can address the concerns of members while staying true to the basic principles that we have defended throughout this process. Thats what we saw and that culminated here today. The work on how we go forward and how we focus on policies and approaches that support the Cuban peoples desire to freely determine their own future is where our focus is, rather than having a stale 47-year-old debate.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from Arshad Mohammad with Reuters. Your line is open.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you to respond to a statement from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who says, quote, Rather than upholding democratic principles and fundamental freedoms, OAS member-states, led by the OAS Secretary General, could not move quickly enough to appease their tyrannical idols in Cuba. Todays decision by the OAS is an affront to the Cuban people and all who struggle for freedom, democracy, and fundamental human rights, close quote.
MR. RESTREPO: I think the important thing to underscore of what happened today is that in a as a result of effective diplomac y, the United States and other partner countries through the region converted a situation where the OAS may have been on the verge of a four-line resolution that simply lifted the 1962 suspension and extended open arms to a government that does not abide by the basic principles that are at the core of our values and the values of the system. Instead of that result, we have a result that lays out a process that specifically refers to the fundamental instruments of this organization of democracy, human rights, self-determination, and other enumerated rights that are precisely the rights that this Administration is working to advance and defend in Cuba and throughout the Americas. This is a day a positive day in the process forward on the issue of supporting the desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their destiny, like the people in our country and throughout the hemisphere get to do on a regular basis.
OPERATOR: The next question comes fro m James Rosen with Fox News. Your line is open.
QUESTIO N: Gentlemen, thank you for conducting this conference call on, apparently, short notice. Youve both made clear repeatedly just in the course of this conference call that at various points along the way three weeks ago and even yesterday we were, as Dan just said, on the verge of a four-line resolution that would have agreed to readmit the Cubans with no conditions placed. And at the same time and that that would have been, as you would agree, in contravention of OASs own charter, practices, principles, purposes. And yet they were ready to do it at various points. We were on the verge.
And now youre telling us that theyve passed a resolution which, if and when the Cubans do seek readmission, requires some demonstration from the Cubans to the satisfaction of these very same people who were prepared to act this way, that theyre suddenly on the right path.
So my question is: What gives you co nfidence that if and when that day comes and the Cubans seek re-admission, that the same feckless characters who were on the verge of a four-line resolution but for our strenuous intervention wont prove similarly feckless in regard to their own practices, purposes, charter, and so forth?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON: Excellent question, a several-part answer.
First, most of the countries around the table wanted (inaudible) as part of the consensus. They recognized at the end of the day this decision about Cuba had to be something that strengthened the OAS and not weakened it. And when we made very clear that our commitment to the core principles of the OAS was not up for negotiation, then these countries realized they had to find a way to work with us in a fashion that protected those principles. And that that was an important moment, number one.
Number two, as we got deeper into this discussion, many of the countries we worked with realized that the short form of the resolution raised more questions than it answered, and that ultimately the members of the negotiating teams of the different countries began to explore just what a short resolution would mean. And ultimately, they were uncomfortable with it and they recognized that the resolution really needed two parts, one part being lifting the suspension. The second part being describing the process by which Cuba would seek readmission if it wanted to, and what purpose, practices, and principles would guide it.
So again, this is all about diplomacy. Its all about working with countries to help them understand their own interests and values, how those interests and values are tied into a larger multilateral network. And in this regard, I think the active participation of Secretary Clinton, the active participation of many high-ranking officials in our government, was vital in getting this message through.
MR. RESTREPO: I think one other thing thats impor tant to note is that the United States remains committed to defending these principles. And I think what we have done through this process is it strengthened our hand in that defense. Weve rallied other countries behind us, put them on record as standing up for these principles and this process as the guide forward. And so by engaging in a constructive dialogue and listening to their concerns, we made folks more open to our concerns. And that I think, at the core, is how this is a clear sign of the effective use of all the power of the United States, and here the diplomatic ability of the United States, to change the course of events that would not have served our national interests and our core values into one that strengthened our national interests and our core values, and the partnership that we have with important countries throughout the Western Hemisphere.
QUESTION: And just to follow up. In terms of crafting policy both unilaterally and mul tilaterally through this organization toward Cuba that is forward-look ing and not backward-looking, what evidence or signs can you point to suggest that Cuba is likewise committed to that kind of forward progress under Raul Castro as far as we can see?
MR. RESTREPRO: That first thing, theres one premise in your question that Im going to have to challenge. Its very important to separate the U.S.-Cuba bilateral relationship from the multilateral environment in which we found ourselves and which we find ourselves at the Organization of American States. The United States and President Obama in his Administration has been very clear about how he believes it is best to advance our national interests and support the Cuban people and the desire to determine their own future and to improve our relations with the Cuban people and to open a new era in bilateral relations. That remains the guidepost in the bilateral context. So I just wanted to make sure that that was very clear. And I think Tom had some on the rest of the question.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON: Yeah. I mean, ultimately, as Dan noted, you know, we are pursuing effectively a two-track approach on Cuba. One is to enhance people-to-people contact and ensure that we are looking ways for improve the well-being of the Cuban people and increase their capacity to have a meaningful voice in determining their national destiny.
The second track is a government-to-government track it that then is determined to see whether or not we can have a dialogue with Cuba across areas of mutual benefit and interests. We have made a proposal to Cuba on migration talks and direct mail talks. The Cuban Government has agreed to both of those. It has also suggested that we need a broader and more comprehensive dialogue. These are good signs. But ultimately, we are going to determine in the course of our engagement both in our effort to help the Cuban people and in our effort to establish some level of dialog ue with the Cuban Government whether or not they are as future-oriente d as we are.
MR. RESTREPO: And one last thought, as the President said at the summit in Trinidad and Tobago, he is open to a new relationship, a new era in relations between the United States and Cuba. Hes not interested in talk for the sake of talk and that this is about actions. This is a process that will take time. It will be hard. And I think to underscore that were not interested in talk just for the sake of talk, this week is an example of where talk was a very effective tool to advance our interests and get and reach an outcome that defends the core principles that we have stood by and that we stand by and that well continue to stand by, by getting an outcome that makes very clear that the return of Cuba to the OAS is not an automatic event at this point, but one, a process that leads that is founded and grounded in the core principles like democracy and human rights. So I think thats a clear example of w here talk is a very effective mechanism of advancing our national interests.
OPERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
MR. AKER: Thank you. We have -- were about out of time. We have, at most, time for one final question.
OPERATOR: And the last question does come from Jesus (inaudible) with (inaudible) magazine. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Thank you. Dan, I have a quick question for you on if I understood he wants to respond. Theres already reaction in Capitol Hill. Some members of the Republican Party are proposing legislation to suspend the money that the U.S. give to the the U.S. give to the Organization of America States. What the Obama Administration is going to do in order to stop this kind of action by the Republican Party, who obviously are not happy with this decision?
MR. RESTREPO: This decision is a couple of hours old. I think upon time and reflection, people will recognize that we did exactly what we stated we would do here, which was stand up for the core values of democracy and human rights, and to make Cubas eventual return to the organization (inaudible) to make process consistent with the practices, principles, and purpose of the OAS which are in the resolution itself defined to be embodied in the OAS charter and other fundamental instruments (inaudible). We all know that those other fundamental instruments in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
And so I believe upon further (inaudible) we will continue to work closely with Congress. We will consult closely with them and discuss this issue moving forward, because we all share the common goal, and that common goal is to see a day when the Cuban people get to decide their own future (inaudible) consistent with that enjoyed by people across the hemisphere (inaudible), which is what, ultimately, we want to see. And we believe we are taking steps in that direction. Rather than being rooted in an argument of the past, we are focused on the presence and the future. This is an important step in that direction and we look forward to working with Congress on this and many other issues of hemispheric concern.
MR. AKER: Thank you.
MR. RESTREPO: Thank you all very much for participating. And we will talk again soon, I imagine. Thanks.
MR. AKER: Thank you, everyone. And just a reminder this is an on the record briefing. And in addition, I would like to point out that the Department of State will be issuing a statement on the results of the ministerial soon, so stayed tune. Good-bye, everyone.