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Cuban and US diplomats start historic Havana talks on restoring ties

January 21, 2015, 10:41 UTC+3 HAVANA

The historic meeting will focus on drafting a roadmap on normalizing ties and opening embassies

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© AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

HAVANA, January 21. /TASS/. The United States and Cuba begin their high-level talks on Wednesday aimed at restoring diplomatic ties after officially breaking relations in 1961.

The US delegation is led by US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, while Havana is represented by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Cuba's head of North American affairs.

The historic meeting will focus on drafting a “roadmap” on normalizing ties and opening embassies. However, the US embargo introduced for Cuba in 1962 will remain in force as it can be only lifted by the US Congress.

The US authorities plan to allow their enterprises in third countries to decide on transactions and offer services to Cuba, as well as to unblock the accounts of Cuban citizens and firms in US banks and allow foreign vessels that dock off Cuba’s coasts to call at US ports.

Washington will also allow US service providers to create their own infrastructure on the island and the mechanisms of ensuring communications links between the US and Cuba.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry official said in a statement ahead of talks that ties could be normalized only after Washington ends its unilateral sanctions policy, which has caused a significant damage to the people of Cuba.

The official Granma newspaper stressed that only “certain aspects of the blockade against Cuba are changing.” US citizens are still banned from making trips to the island by the sea and the restrictions of US high-tech products to Cuba are also in place, according to the report.

The measures announced are “just a step in a right direction,” but there is still “a long way to go” before the US Congress puts an end to this policy, the newspaper said.

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