Cuba and US appear to be close to reopening embassies after half-century of frozen relations

Diplomats from both countries held high-level talks this week

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Cuba and the US are closer than ever to reopening embassies after more than a half-century of frozen relations, as diplomats from the respective countries have had “highly productive” talks the past two days.

Top Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal and US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said the talks on Thursday and Friday were fruitful, according to the Associated Press. The countries agreed to further discussions on conditions for improving relations.

Re-establishing relations with Cuba has been a top priority of President Barack Obama since December, when he announced his plans to reopen embassies. He has since met – and shaken hands with – Cuban President Raul Castro.

Earlier this week, the countries re-established banking ties, seen as an important hurdle in improving relations. Cuban diplomats previously were required to deal only in cash when visiting the US.

The US will remove Cuba from its list of sponsors of terrorism on 29 May, a move seen as crucial in repairing relations. Even if the countries re-open embassies, the trade embargo can only be thrown out by US Congress.