June 1, 2009 in Nation/World

U.S.-Cuba discussions to resume

Immigration, mail service on table after invitation
Matthew Lee Associated Press
 

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Cuba has agreed to resume talks with the Obama administration on legal immigration of Cubans to the United States and direct mail service between the two countries in a move welcomed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“These talks are part of our effort to forge a new way forward on Cuba that advances the interests of the United States, the Cuban people and our entire hemisphere,” she said. She added that the Obama administration was “very pleased” with the Cuban decision.

The communist government notified the U.S. on Saturday that it had accepted an administration overture made May 22 to restart the immigration talks, suspended by then-President George W. Bush after the last meeting in 2003. Cuba also expressed a willingness to cooperate with the U.S. on fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, and on hurricane disaster preparedness.

“These talks are in the interests of the United States and also in the interests of the Cuban people,” Clinton told reporters here after talks with foreign and trade ministers from Latin America.

“At the same time, we will continue to press the Cuban government to protect basic rights, release political prisoners, and move toward democratic reform,” she said.

The latest development comes ahead of Clinton’s participation at a meeting Tuesday in Honduras where Cuba’s possible readmission to the Organization of American States is expected to be discussed.

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