HAVANA TIMES — The United States and Cuba will resume on Thursday in Havana the migration talks initiated almost half a year ago in Washington, confirmed sources of the US Interests Section in Havana on Tuesday.
The US delegation said it will appear before the press on Friday to give details of the talks, noted dpa news.
The US severed diplomatic ties with Cuba more than half a century ago and maintains a commercial and economic embargo on the island. It also forbids its citizens to visit Cuba without special Treasury Department permission. (Cuban-Americans are now exempt from the travel ban).
The current meetings on migration issues resumed in July 2013 in Washington. The last round took place two years earlier.
The talks will focus on immigration issues. The Obama administration has said on several occasions that this form of dialogue does not represent a change in US policy toward Cuba.
Obama in 2009 resumed migration talks held for the first time in 1995. They had been suspended for six years starting 2003 during the George W. Bush administration.
The case of US agent Alan Gross, arrested in Cuba in December 2009 and later sentenced to prison on the island for crimes against state security, caused a pause in discussions until January 2011.
Cuba hopes to achieve with the United States a new immigration agreement. The last one was signed in 1994 following the “rafters crisis” when thousands of Cubans reached US shores in a weeks long mass exodus.
Since then, Washington agreed to grant 20,000 visas per year to Cubans to facilitate an orderly exit from the island, while Havana agreed to accept those who are returned by the US authorities without imposing reprisals.
With more than 1.5 million residents of Cuban origin based mainly in Florida, the United States is the country where most of the island’s exiles have settled.