U.S., Cuba Plan To Resume Talks About Restarting Direct Mail Service
Official: U.S., Cuba Plan To Resume Talks About Restarting Direct Mail
By MATTHEW LEE and PAUL HAVEN 06/17/13 06:38 AM ET EDT
WASHINGTON — The United States and Cuba will resume talks this week on
restarting direct mail service despite a deadlock between Washington and
Havana over detainees that has largely stalled most rapprochement
efforts, a U.S. official said Monday.
U.S. and Cuban diplomats and postal representatives will meet in
Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday for technical talks aimed at ending
a 50-year suspension in direct mail between the United States and the
communist island. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because
he was not authorized to speak to the matter publicly before Congress is
notified. Lawmakers were to be notified of the meetings starting Monday
morning, the official said.
The resumption in talks does not signify any change in the Obama
administration’s Cuba policy, the official said, stressing that the
discussions are taking place in the context of the Cuba Democracy Act of
1992 and are consistent with the U.S. interest “in promoting the free
flow of information to, from and within Cuba.”
Cuba and the United States have had no direct mail service since 1963,
though letters do go back and forth via third countries.
In and of themselves, the discussions are not particularly significant,
but the fact the two Cold War enemies are talking at all is. And, in the
past, both governments have used the bilateral meetings as a pretext to
discuss wider issues. In 2009, a senior State Department official in
Havana for mail talks ended up staying six extra days and even spoke
secretly with Cuba’s deputy foreign minister – then the highest-level
meeting between the two sides in decades.
The mail talks and separate negotiations on immigration have been on
hold since then over demands by Washington that Cuba release jailed
American subcontractor Alan Gross.
Gross was arrested in December 2009 while on a USAID-funded democracy
building program and is serving a 15-year sentence after being caught
bringing communications equipment onto the island illegally.
Washington has continued to insist that no major progress in improving
ties is possible while Gross is in jail. Cuba, for its part, is asking
Washington to release four Cuban intelligence agents serving long jail
terms in the United States. A fifth completed his sentence earlier this
year and was allowed to return to Cuba after he renounced his American
In recent months, Cuban and U.S. officials have spoken of a better
working relationship, with diplomats on both sides routinely granted
approval to travel outside each other’s capital. But whether the
behind-the-scenes thaw will result in any improvement in the countries’
formal relationship is anybody’s guess.
Haven reported from Havana.
Source: “Official: U.S., Cuba Plan To Resume Talks About Restarting
Direct Mail Service” –