Cuba, U.S. Discuss Pilot Project for Direct Mail Service

U.S. and Cuban representatives held a second round of talks in Havana on Monday to discuss a pilot project to re-establish direct mail service between the two countries, five decades after it was cancelled amid Cold War tensions.

The U.S. delegation was led by Lea Emerson, executive director for international postal affairs at the U.S. Postal Service, and several State Department officials. A State Department communiqué called the talks "fruitful" and said delegates would tour Cuban mail facilities on Tuesday. Cuba also said in a statement that the discussions were "respectful." Both sides agreed to meet again in the coming months.

Monday's meeting followed similar negotiations to discuss direct mail service in June. U.S. and Cuban officials also held migration talks in July. The resumption of talks this year is seen as a positive sign for relations between the two countries after being put on hold following the arrest in 2009 of U.S. contractor Alan Gross. In 2011, Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison for acts against the state after he brought restricted communications equipment on to the island.

Direct mail service between the United States and Cuba has been suspended since 1963. Despite the two countries’ geographic proximity, letters and other mail currently flow between the U.S. and Cuba through other countries, such as Canada, Mexico and Panama.

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