Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space 12 top U.S. officials to join Biden at major climate conference MORE marked a "historic day" in the U.S.-Cuba relationship on Monday but said President Obama isn't open to returning Guantanamo Bay to government in Havana.
"We understand that Cuba has strong feelings about it, and I can't tell you what the future will bring, but for the moment that is not part of the discussion on our side," Kerry said.
"There are things that Cuba would like to see happen. There are things that the United States would like to see happen," he added.
Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla spoke with reporters after Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington, which had been closed since 1961.
But the status of Guantanamo could become a sticking point as the two countries work toward normalized relations.
Rodriguez Parilla said that the Cuban government wants Obama to continue to use executive action to chip away at the U.S. embargo, return Guantanamo Bay, and not push for any change within Cuba that "falls under our exclusive sovereignty."
The administration has backed lifting the embargo, but faces an uphill climb to convince Republicans, many of whom are skeptical of the Castro government.
Kerry acknowledged on Monday that the two countries will likely have disagreements moving forward, saying that the road to normalized relations "may be long and complex but along the way we are sure to encounter a bump here and there and moments even of frustration. Patience will be required."
"We are taking a historic and long-overdue step in the right direction," he added. "Nothing is more futile than trying to live in the past."
The State Department announced Monday that Kerry will travel to Cuba next month to raise the flag over the new American Embassy.