CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. July 15, 2009: For the first time since 2003, U.S. and Cuban officials got together yesterday to talk migration.
The issue, which is one of contention for the Cuban authorities, given the U.S` `wet foot, dry land` policy, saw Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez and U.S. State Department officials, headed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig Kelly, sitting down to discuss long-standing disagreements as well as to lay the groundwork future discussions.
These included the mid-1990s migration accords that aimed to prevent an exodus of Cuban refugees to the United States.
`Engaging in these talks underscores our interest in pursuing constructive discussions with the government of Cuba to advance U.S. interests on issues of mutual concern,` State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement.
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez, who headed the Cuban delegation, described the meeting as `a fruitful working session that validates the usefulness of the mechanism of these talks.`
The United States on Tuesday reiterated its desire to get access to a deepwater Cuban port to return migrants safely, as set out in the accords, and to ensure that U.S. diplomats can track the welfare of those sent back, the department said.
Cuba said it repeated its long-held objection to U.S. immigration policy that gives preferential treatment to Cubans who make it to U.S. shores.
Cuba has proposed that the next round of talks in Havana in December.