"A senior American diplomat has held unannounced, high-level talks in Havana with the Cuban government, three State Department officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday, raising hopes for a thaw in long-icy relations.
The talks were the first of their kind in years between representatives of the U.S. and Cuban governments, the bitter Cold War rivals among whom trust appears to be gradually building.
Bisa Williams, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, met with Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez, visited an area affected by hurricanes in the Western province of Pinar del Rio and toured a government agricultural facility during a six-day trip to Cuba this month, the officials told AP.
The meetings came on the heels of Sept. 17 talks on the possibility of restarting direct mail service between the countries, suspended since 1963. Those discussions had been public, but neither country had previously revealed that Williams remained in Havana for five extra days.
One U.S. official described the talks as "respectful" and said they were more significant for having taken place, than for any substantive breakthroughs between the two sides, which have been at odds since shortly after former Cuban leader Fidel Castro marched into Havana on New Year's Day 1959."
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