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Embassy Reopenings Top Americans' List in Cuba Talks

FILE - A Cuban man wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. flag walks along a street in Havana, Jan. 16, 2015.
FILE - A Cuban man wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. flag walks along a street in Havana, Jan. 16, 2015.

A Cuban delegation will be at the State Department on Friday to talk about restoring diplomatic ties with the United States for the first time since 1961 — part of President Barack Obama's initiative to end the trade embargo against Cuba.

A senior State Department official said Friday's session would focus solely on doing what needs to be done to open embassies in Washington and Havana as quickly as possible.

"This is where we roll up our sleeves as diplomats and sit down at the table and make sure that we hammer all of the details out to get embassies up and running the way we have embassies all over the world," the official told reporters.

The official said the number of things that will be accomplished and the time frame for getting them done will depend in part on what the Cubans bring to the table.

Cuba has said it will be linking the embassy issue to whether the U.S. drops it from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The official said that the U.S. delegation is not linking the two issues and that the review of the terrorism list is a separate, ongoing process.

The State Department official said the Cubans should feel comfortable that the matter is under review. "It would be very easy to restore diplomatic relations if they would not link those two things," the official said.

The official also said a human rights dialogue would be the first open conversation between the U.S. and Cuba after diplomatic ties were resumed.

Last month in Havana, the U.S. and Cuba began a series of meetings to re-establish ties.

The U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960 and closed its embassy one year later after communist leader Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed government.

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