US, Cuba to hold new round of diplomatic talks next week, may announce embassy openings

Cuba's president Raul Castro talks to the media next to Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (R) during the departure of French President Francois Hollande at Jose Marti airport in Havana, May 12, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa

The US and Cuba are scheduled to hold another round of high-ranking talks in Washington DC next week, the US State Department announced on 14 May.

"We have been planning for a meeting next week," State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Jeff Rathke told reporters. "We don't have an announcement of specific dates right now, but we will make an announcement on the date when both sides have confirmed."

NBC News reported that Cuba's Foreign Ministry confirmed that the two nations were hoping to announce the dates of the opening of embassies after the meeting.

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Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told AFP that the meeting will focus on the reopening of the embassies. "In the coming weeks, there will be a new round of negotiations in Washington on reestablishing diplomatic relations and opening embassies," he told AFP exclusively.

According to NBC News, the talks will be led by US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson and the general director of Cuba's US Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vidal Ferreiro.

Rodriguez told AFP that the two countries had made "considerable" progress on allowing the Cuban diplomatic mission in DC to open a bank account. The mission had been banned from opening an account due to the trade and financial embargo on Cuba instituted in 1962.

The US and Cuba have made significant strides in their diplomatic relationship since US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that full diplomatic ties would be restored on 17 December.

On 12 May, Castro told reporters that the two countries will name ambassadors to each other's countries after the Caribbean nation is removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism later in May. According to NBC News, the plan is to open the Cuban embassy in DC first and then open the US embassy in Havana.

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