US official: Cuba migration talks productive

Jan 10, 2014, 8:33 PM

HAVANA (AP) – A senior U.S. State Department official said Friday that migration talks with the Cuban government this week have been productive and yielded “some positive outcomes,” but did not give concrete details of any agreements or breakthroughs.

Alex Lee, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told reporters that the Obama administration is open to seeking a new relationship with Havana, but it should go hand-in-hand with more political freedom in the Communist-run nation.

“We at the same time want to have that opening reflect from the Cuban side a respect for Cubans who express themselves freely,” Lee said. “To be able to petition their government with grievances without the danger of them being arrested. … In the meantime, we are working on these sets of rather narrowly defined areas of cooperation.”

The migration talks took place Thursday in the Cuban capital and ranged to cover other topics of mutual interest for the Cold War foes, including aviation safety, maritime search and rescue protocols and consular document fraud.

Lee said Washington welcomed a year-old Cuban migratory policy change eliminating a longstanding exit visa requirement under which islanders had to ask their government’s permission to travel abroad.

He said that during three days in Havana, he met with foreign diplomats and members of so-called civil society _ primarily independent journalists, writers and political activists.

Lee also visited imprisoned U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence on a conviction for crimes against the Cuban state related to his work setting up hard-to-detect Internet networks for the island’s tiny Jewish community.

He declined to give details of their private discussion, and repeated Washington’s previous calls for Gross’ freedom.

“We believe that Alan should be released. … We do not see any reason why he received such a harsh sentence,” Lee said.

He added that during his discussions with Josefina Vidal, Josefina Vidal, director of the U.S. Division at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, and other island officials, they raised their concerns about four Cuban intelligence agents serving long terms in the United States.

“We took note,” Lee said.

The migration talks have in the past been used as a rare chance for dialogue between two countries that have not had full diplomatic relations for decades.

They were suspended in 2011, the same year Cuba sentenced Gross to prison, but resumed last July. Cuban and American officials also met multiple times in 2013 on re-establishing direct mail service, and Lee said there have been conversations in areas such as counter-narcotics cooperation, oil spill preparation and transportation.

“Despite our historically difficult relationship … we have been able to speak to each other in a respectful and thoughtful manner,” he added.

___

Peter Orsi on Twitter:
www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
3 days ago
In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Pres...
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
7 days ago
Royal guards stand by the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, as members of the public pay thei...
Associated Press

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral | Live updates

WINDSOR, England — Queen Elizabeth II has been interred together with her late husband, Prince Philip, at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, officials said. The royal family’s official website said the Dean of Windsor conducted a private burial ceremony late Monday at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex inside St. George’s, a […]
10 days ago
Britain's King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort leave after a Service of Prayer and Refle...
Associated Press

Live updates: Queen’s funeral police effort is biggest ever

LONDON — London police say Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday will be the largest single policing event the force has ever handled. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said Friday that the massive police operation surpasses even the 2012 Olympics, which were held in the British capital, and the celebrations earlier this year […]
13 days ago
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident ...
Associated Press

WHO: COVID end ‘in sight,’ deaths at lowest since March 2020

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide last week was the lowest reported in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak. At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said […]
15 days ago
Kenya's new president William Ruto signs the book of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II at the resid...
Associated Press

Live updates: Public views queen’s coffin in ancient hall

LONDON — Members of the public who waited outside for many hours are filing through Westminster Hall to pay their respects at the queen’s coffin, which is lying in state there. People are filing past each side of the coffin, most pausing for a brief moment to bow their heads. Some wiped their eyes while […]
15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
US official: Cuba migration talks productive