US, Cuba address obstacles to resuming diplomatic ties

World Today

Members of a U.S. delegation, right, and Cuban delegates, left, sit across from each other as they begin negotiations, in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Photo: AP

The United States and Cuba are trying to eliminate obstacles to normalized ties as the highest-level U.S. delegation to the communist island in more than three decades holds a second day of talks with Cuban officials.

U.S. objectives during Thursday’s session include the lifting of restrictions on American diplomats in Cuba and assurances that Cubans will have unfettered access to a future U.S. Embassy in Havana. The Americans say the resumption in full diplomatic relations depends on how quickly its requests are met. Cuba is demanding its removal from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, which Washington said it is considering.

On Wednesday, the U.S. said it dispatched additional ships to the Florida Straits to halt Cuban rafters but rebuffed demands for broader changes to U.S. migration rules that grant virtually automatic legal residency to any Cuban who touches U.S. soil.

Cuba’s government blames the Cold War policy for luring tens of thousands of Cubans a year to make perilous journeys by land and sea to try to reach the United States. Still, many Cubans are worried the elimination of the rules would take away their chance to have a better life in the U.S.

This story is compiled with information from The Associated Press.