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US-Cuban diplomats meet in Havana on normalizing ties

Reporter: Michael Voss 丨 CCTV.com

05-19-2016 10:35 BJT

US and Cuban officials have met in Havana to review the progress in normalizing relations. They also set out a road map for what needs to be done to further deepen detente during President Barack Obama's final months in office. 

The arrival of the first American cruise ship to Havana earlier this month was the latest example of just how far relations have improved between Cuba and the United States. But there's still a lot of issues to resolve between these two former Cold War foes.

After Monday's meeting with US diplomats, Cuba says that it has agreed to a series of visits in the coming months by high-level U.S. agriculture, health and security officials.

"It's a really ambitious agenda, with new actions, agreements, visits and dialogue. It will take time but we are moving towards normalizing relations," said Josefina Vidal, director general of US Affairs. 

It's now been almost a year since both countries restored diplomatic relations and re-opened their embassies.

The US State Department described Monday's meeting as respectful and productive and said that talks on human rights and compensation claims are also on the agenda.

Earlier this year US President Barack Obama made his historic trip to Cuba, where he spoke of burying the last remnants of the Cold War. 

Despite criticism of the visit by Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro and at the recent Communist Party Congress, Josefina Vidal saw it in a more positive light.

"We consider the visit was an additional step forward in the process of improving relations and that it can add momentum to advance this process, which is in both nations' interests," Josefina Vidal also said.

The biggest outstanding issue remains the US trade embargo, which Cuba complains continues to hurt its economic development.

European countries are hoping to take advantage. Also in Havana this week is Spain's acting foreign minister looking at ways to improve trade and investment. 

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