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US, Cuba hold highest-level talks since 1961

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-10 13:59

US, Cuba hold highest-level talks since 1961

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodr�guez in Panama City, Panama April 9, 2015 in this handout photo, as they hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas.[Photo/Agencies]

PANAMA CITY - US Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez held closed-door talks here Thursday evening, in the highest-level meeting between Washington and Havana since they broke off diplomatic relations in 1961.

The meeting came ahead of a historic encounter between US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro on the sidelines of the upcoming seventh Summit of the Americas on Friday and Saturday.

US State Department's Twitter account on Thursday evening posted a picture of Kerry and Rodriguez looking at the camera while shaking hands at the meeting.

"Secretary Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez had a lengthy and very constructive discussion this evening. The two agreed they made progress and that we would continue to work to resolve outstanding issues," a senior State Department official said.

It was the first meeting between the two top diplomats since Obama and Castro announced starting normalization of relations in December last year.

The US State Department has completed review of Cuba's status and recommended the White House remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

Should Obama authorize the removal during the summit, it would mark a big step in the rapprochement between the two countries.

But the dismissal will not take effect immediately because the White House has to submit the report to Congress for a 45-day review.

The United States first put Cuba on the list of states sponsoring terrorism in 1982, which has been a sticking point to the two nations' efforts to restore diplomatic relations.

Three rounds of talks on restoring diplomatic ties and re-opening embassies have been held since December.


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