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US says next round of Cuba talks to take place in Havana on Monday

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. and Cuban diplomats will hold the next round of talks on restoring diplomatic ties and reopening their embassies in Havana, on Monday, the U.S. State Department announced.

Roberta Jacobson, the United States’ top diplomat for Latin America, will return on March 15 to the Cuban capital for a third round of negotiations, the department said in a statement.

On a conference call with reporters, a senior State Department official clarified later that Jacobson will in fact travel to Cuba on Sunday and the talks will begin Monday.

Both sides said progress had been made in their last talks in Washington on Feb. 27 aimed at restoring diplomatic ties severed for more than half a century, but they cautioned that differences remained.

Jacobson will again meet with Cuba’s chief negotiator Josefina Vidal on Sunday.

“The parties have been in communication since last meeting in February in Washington,” the State Department said.

“It is in the interest of both countries to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies,” it continued.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raúl Castro surprised the world in December with their decision to restore ties after more than a half century of Cold War enmity.

The hope is that within the coming months, both nations will agree to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals and appoint full-fledged ambassadors.

“A U.S. Embassy in Havana will allow the United States to more effectively promote our interests and values, and increase engagement with the Cuban people,” the State Department said.

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