US, Cuba agree to resume migration talks

The United States and Cuba have agreed to resume direct talks on migration, last held in 2003, and open discussions on establishing direct mail service between the two countries, a US official said today.

Cuba presented a diplomatic note to US officials on Saturday agreeing to a US request made last week to resume the migration talks, which President George W Bush suspended.

It was a clear sign of movement in President Barack Obama's effort to establish a more cooperative relationship with Cuba, a former Cold War enemy.

The communist nation also presented a note agreeing to a US request proposing talks about direct mail service, which has been suspended for decades.

"The two notes are a very positive step forward," the US official said. "Our goal has always been safe, orderly migration out of Cuba... It's in our interest to resume these talks."

The official said the Cubans also indicated an interest in holding talks on counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and hurricane disaster responses - areas where the two countries have had sporadic cooperation in the decades since the US broke off diplomatic ties and imposed an embargo.

The word came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began a three-day trip to Latin America that will include a meeting of the Organization of American States, where a majority of Latin American members are expected to support Cuba's re-entry to the hemispheric group.

The OAS suspended Cuba in 1962 after Fidel Castro's revolution steered the island toward communism and a close alliance with the Soviet Union.

Clinton told Congress recently the United States would not support Cuba's re-entry to the OAS until it could embrace the democratic principles outlined in the group's charter.

In a move to improve ties with Cuba, President Obama lifted restrictions two months ago on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island.

But Obama also has emphasized the need for Cuba to engage in democratic reforms before additional steps can be taken to ease or end the decades-old American embargo on Cuba.

"This is a clear signal that we're serious in following up the president's direction and we're intent on starting up a new relationship," the official said. "The idea is to identify areas of cooperation that would be mutually beneficial."

No date or place have yet been set for the talks.

The United States hopes the migration talks could decrease the chances of a mass exodus of Cubans like the flood of refugees who left in 1980 and again in 1994.

A 1995 migration accord sought to put an end to mass seat-borne migration. It established the repatriation to Cuba by US authorities of Cuban migrants intercepted at sea, and Havana also pledged to halt illegal migration bids.

Under that accord, the United States agreed to foster legal migration by granting at least 20,000 U.S. visas to Cubans each year.

The Bush administration suspended the talks in January 2004, saying Cuba had stymied them by refusing to discuss key issues such as giving exit permits to all Cubans who get US visas.

When Washington announced earlier this month it had offered a resumption of the migration talks with Havana, Florida Republican Congress members Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart issued a joint statement condemning the move as "another unilateral concession by the Obama Administration to the dictatorship".

They said Havana continued to flout the 1995 pact by withholding exit permits.

But other representatives of the Cuban American community, such as the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), which after years of hardline anti-Castro militancy now advocates more contact and engagement with Cuba, said discussion of topics of mutual interest like migration was essential to try to improve the bilateral relationship.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Sales Account Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company leads the market i...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - Cyber Security

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager for Cyber Secur...

Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst - Application Support - Central London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst (App...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engineer (Windows Server, Exchange Server)

£35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum