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U.S., Cuba to hold highest-level meeting in more than 50 years

Friday, April 10, 2015, 09:39 GMT+7
U.S., Cuba to hold highest-level meeting in more than 50 years
Cuba's President Raul Castro (C) addresses the media after arriving in Panama City April 9, 2015.

Washington, April 9 -- The U.S. and Cuban foreign ministers will meet in Panama on Thursday, the U.S. State Department said, in what would be the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the earliest days of the Cuban revolution more than half a century ago.

The discussions between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez would be the first time the two nations' chief diplomats have met since a historic opening by President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, that was announced on Dec. 17 last year.

"Secretary Kerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez tonight," the State Department said in a statement issued from Panama City, where regional leaders are gathering for the Summit of the Americas held every three years.

The statement said nothing about whether Obama may remove Cuba from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list, a move that is widely expected following the rapprochement between the two countries.

The U.S. State Department has recommended that Obama remove Cuba from the list, a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide said on Thursday.

John Foster Dulles and Gonzalo Guell were the last U.S. and Cuban foreign ministers to hold a formal meeting, which took place in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22, 1958, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The highest-level meeting after the revolution took place in April 1959, between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro, who had become his country's prime minister in early 1959. Relations between the United States and Cuba rapidly deteriorated soon after. 

Reuters

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