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|US and Cuba in immigration talks |
(about 9 hours later)
Senior US and Cuban officials have started direct talks in Havana on immigration issues.
This is the latest sign of improved relations between the two former Cold War adversaries. However hopes of major breakthroughs have begun to recede.
The US delegation is led by Craig Kelly, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Mr Kelly is the most senior government official to visit Cuba in many years.
The two sides used to hold regular, twice yearly immigration talks, aimed at avoiding the mass exodus of Cubans heading for Miami on small boats.
|But the Bush administration froze all contacts with Cuba.||But the Bush administration froze all contacts with Cuba.|
Relations have eased under President Obama with the resumption of direct negotiations on areas of mutual interest.
|He has also lifted all restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting and sending money to relatives on the island.||He has also lifted all restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting and sending money to relatives on the island.|
But hopes of a major breakthrough in ending this leftover conflict from the Cold War are rapidly disappearing.
The US still insists that Cuba shows progress on human rights and democracy before lifting the 50 year-old trade embargo.
One shadow overhanging the meeting is the fate of a US government contractor who was arrested in December after allegedly handing out satellite communication equipment to religious groups.
He has not been charged yet, but Cuba's President Raul Castro has accused him of espionage.
The US delegation is hoping to raise the issue with their Cuban counterparts.