US and Cuba Held Unannounced Talks

Sep 29, 2009 8:14pm

 ABC News' Kirit Radia reports: Senior US and Cuban officials held talks in Havana earlier this month that were longer and more wide ranging than previously revealed, the State Department said today. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Bisa Williams traveled to the Havana, Cuba for talks on restoring postal service between the two countries, but officials now say she also held additional talks in western Cuba about the status of the US Interest Section in Cuba and migration, among other topics. Bisa Williams took advantage of the opportunity while in Cuba for postal talks to have additional meetings, talk with members of civil society and visit western Cuba which was hit hard by hurricanes last year. The highest level official she met with was the vice foreign minister for Latin America," Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs told ABC. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says Williams stayed in Cuba for six days. “Williams met with host government officials and a wide range of representatives from civil society to gain a full appreciation of the political and economic situation on the ground,” Kelly said. The migration talks were a follow-up to discussions held earlier this year. Those talks are slated to be held again in December, though no date has been set. A US statement following the September 17 postal talks specifically said the talks lasted one day and made no mention of additional discussions on other topics. The postal talks are expected to continue, but a venue has yet to be decided upon. President Obama earlier this year said he would like to improve ties between the US and Cuba, but said the Cuban government must also take steps to release political prisoners and establish accountable governance.

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