Cuba to Host Highest-Level US Official Since 1980

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Cuba will host the most senior US official to visit the island in 35 years on Wednesday for two days of groundbreaking talks to shed their Cold War-era rivalry.

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The meetings in Havana follow the historic decision by US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro in December to seek normal diplomatic relations.

"In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date," Obama said in his annual State of the Union speech late Tuesday, urging the US Congress to lift the decades-old embargo.

"When what you have done doesn't work for fifty years. It's time to try something new," he said.

Roberta Jacobson, the US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, will be the highest-ranking American official to visit the communist island since 1980 when she lands Wednesday.

Cuba will be represented by Josefina Vidal, director of the foreign ministry's US affairs, for the two days of talks, AFP reported.

"We hope to establish civilized relations between countries that have different political concepts, but which can get along while respecting these differences," an unnamed Cuban foreign ministry official told pro-government website cubadebate.cu.

The first day of talks in Havana's Convention Center will focus on migration, an issue for both nations as Cuba has seen an exodus of Cubans to nearby Florida over the years.

The Cuban official said Havana will express its concerns about a US policy that gives Cubans quick access to permanent residency when they set foot on US soil.

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