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    Cuba, US discuss direct mail service

    Posted on Monday, 09.16.13

    Cuba, US discuss direct mail service
    BY PETER ORSI
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    HAVANA — U.S. and Cuban representatives met in Havana on Monday for
    renewed talks on re-establishing direct mail service, 50 years after it
    was severed amid Cold War tensions relations.

    The American delegation was led by Lea Emerson, executive director for
    international postal affairs at the U.S. Postal Service, and included
    State Department officials. They met with Cuban counterparts, including
    Johana Tablada, deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s U.S. affairs
    division.

    A State Department communique called the talks “fruitful” and said
    delegates would tour Cuban mail facilities Tuesday.

    “The re-establishment of direct transportation of mail between the
    United States and Cuba is consistent with our goal of promoting the free
    flow of information to, from and within Cuba,” it said.

    Cuba said in a statement that the discussions were “respectful” and both
    sides agreed to meet again in the coming months.

    Mail service between the two countries was canceled in 1963. Currently,
    letters mailed from the United States to Cuba and vice versa take
    circuitous paths through third countries even though just 90 miles of
    sea separates the island nation from Florida.

    Monday’s meeting follows similar negotiations in Washington in June.
    Cuba and the United States also held migration discussions in July.

    Both sets of talks had been on hold since 2009, when USAID development
    subcontractor Alan Gross was caught bringing restricted communications
    equipment into Cuba.

    He was sentenced to 15 years in prison under a statute governing crimes
    against the state, although he argues that he never intended to harm
    Cuba and was only setting up Internet networks for island Jewish groups.

    Resumption of talks this year was seen as a positive sign for relations,
    even if the two sides are still far apart on many issues such as Gross’
    detention, the imprisonment of five Cuban agents in the United States
    and Washington’s 51-year-old economic embargo against Cuba.

    With no formal diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington, such
    discussions have in the past served as a pretext to talk about other issues.

    In 2009, a senior State Department stayed in Havana nearly a week after
    mail talks and met privately with Cuba’s deputy foreign minister in the
    highest-level contact the two governments had had in decades.

    Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter-Orsi

    Source: “HAVANA: Cuba, US discuss direct mail service – Florida Wires –
    MiamiHerald.com” –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/16/3630861/cuba-us-discuss-direct-mail-service.html