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US, Cuba to Resume Talks on Diplomatic Relations

FILE - A journalist stands near a screen announcing a round of negotiations between Cuba and the U.S. in Havana, January 22, 2015.

U.S. and Cuban officials will launch a third round of talks Monday on restoration of diplomatic relations.

A senior State Department official said the talks would take place in Havana and might last several days.

The two sides last met in Washington in late February. Negotiators have been discussing issues that include reopening embassies in Washington and Havana after five decades of estrangement.

When asked whether it was possible that the embassies might be reopened in time for the April Summit of the Americas in Panama, the senior State Department official said it was “something we would like.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson and Josefina Vidal, the head of the U.S. division at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, are leading the talks.

After the two sides met last month, Vidal said a U.S. decision to remove Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism was not a precondition for re-establishing ties. But she thought it would be difficult to explain that Cuba and the U.S. had re-established relations if Cuba remained on the list.

The senior State Department official said that while the two issues remained separate, a review was underway on Cuba’s status and would be completed as quickly as possible.

The official also said U.S. and Cuban officials would meet later this month to discuss human rights issues and telecommunications policies.

The U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960 and closed its embassy the following year. In January, following an initiative announced by President Barack Obama, the two sides began a series of meetings to re-establish ties.