Cuba, US ready for historic talks on restoring ties

Updated: 2015-01-21 09:29


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Cuba, US ready for historic talks on restoring ties

US Senator Patrick Leahy (R), who is leading a US delegation in the first congressional mission to Cuba since the change of policy announced by US President Barack Obama on December 17, speaks to journalists at a hotel in downtown Havana, January 19, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

HAVANA -- Cuba and the United States are preparing to hold historic high-level talks on restoring relations and immigration issues, starting Wednesday in Havana, the Cuban capital.

The talks, the first following a surprise joint announcement in December by the leaders of both countries on their decision to normalize ties after more than a half century of hostility, are expected to lead initially to the reopening of their respective embassies.

The Jan. 21-22 talks will be held at Havana's convention center. The talks will aim "to assess the progress of the 1994 and 1995 immigration accords and the actions taken by both sides to tackle illegal immigration and human trafficking in migrants, among other topics," Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry said in a statement.

Officials from both nations met over immigration issues in July in Washington, with Cuba insisting that the US' so-called "wet foot, dry foot" policy prevent "legal, secure and orderly" immigration between the two countries. The policy basically grants Cubans who reach US soil automatic residency, encouraging many to risk their lives to raft the dangerous waters between the Caribbean island and the southern US state of Florida.

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