Page last updated at 23:50 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 00:50 UK

US offers migration talks to Cuba

Emotional reunions at Havana airport
The US has recently eased curbs on visits to Cuba

Washington has offered to resume talks on legal immigration by Cubans to the US, the US state department says.

It says the move aims to "reaffirm both sides' commitment to safe, legal and orderly migration".

The talks were halted in 2003 after Havana refused to give exit permits to people who had been granted US visas.

In March, President Barack Obama eased restrictions on visits to the Communist island by Cuban-Americans and allowed them to send money home more easily.

Curbs on sending medicines and food were also eased.

The legislation overturned rules imposed by the Bush administration which had limited travel to just two weeks every three years and had confined visits to immediate family members.

'Seeking dialogue'

On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Darla Jordan said President Obama wanted "to ensure that we are doing all we can to support the Cuban people in fulfilling their desire to live in freedom".

"He will continue to make policy decisions accordingly," the spokeswoman added.

Cuba has so far not commented on Washington's latest offer.

President Obama has recently indicated he would be open to dialogue with Cuba's leaders.

But he has said that, like previous American presidents, he will only consider a full lifting of the embargo - in place since 1962 - once Cuba makes significant moves such as the holding of democratic elections.

Cuba's President Raul Castro has said he is prepared to negotiate with the new US administration, providing there are no preconditions.

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