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US-Cuba Normalization Talks to Take Place January 21

  • Reuters

Flags of Cuba and the U.S. flutter in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 19, 2014.

Flags of Cuba and the U.S. flutter in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 19, 2014.

U.S.-Cuba talks on normalizing ties will take place in Havana on January 21-22, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday, as Cuba freed six more detainees as part of the two countries' rapprochement.

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, will visit Cuba for the meetings, which were originally scheduled to discuss migration but will now cover normalizing ties after more than 50 years of enmity.

The United States and Cuba announced three weeks ago they had agreed to move toward restoring diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago. U.S. President Barack Obama called for ending the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

While the agenda for the January 21-22 talks is not yet set, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it will include the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations and related matters such as formally reopening embassies.

The migration talks, which are held roughly every six months, alternating between Cuba and the United States, cover ensuring safe, legal and orderly migration between the two nations.

Psaki announced the date for the talks as dissidents said that Cuba had freed six more detainees in keeping with its promise to release 53 people that the United States considers political prisoners as part of the December 17 rapprochement.

Including three detainees released on Wednesday, there have been nine people freed in the past 24 hours, political opposition groups on the communist-led island said. All nine had been had been accused of relatively minor offenses.

There has been some controversy regarding the pace of the releases. The United States has refused to name the 53, with a senior U.S. official arguing on Thursday that doing so could compromise their release.

The State Department also has declined to say how many of the 53 have so far been freed.