The United States and Cuba will hold a new meeting in the coming weeks in Washington on reopening embassies, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Wednesday, according to AFP.
"In the coming weeks, there will be a new round of negotiations in Washington on reestablishing diplomatic relations and opening embassies," he told the news agency in an exclusive interview.
The exact date has not yet been set, he said.
The two sides have held several rounds of talks since the landmark announcement by President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro on December 17 that the former Cold War foes would restore the full diplomatic ties they severed in 1961.
The move to normalize ties with Cuba came after Havana released Jewish-American contractor Alan Gross in exchange for three Cubans held in the United States for spying.
Obama explained at the time that the American embargo on Cuba was “an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. These 50 years have shown that isolation does not work.”
The ongoing negotiations are being led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson and Cuba's top diplomat for United States affairs, Josefina Vidal.
Rodriguez said the talks had made "considerable" progress on the issue of allowing the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington to open a bank account, which it has not been able to do because of the trade and financial embargo the United States has imposed on the island since 1962.
The last talks between the two sides took place on March 16 in Havana.
It was followed in April by a highly symbolic meeting between Obama and Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
Obama then notified Congress of his intention to take Cuba off the black list of state sponsors of terrorism, a key sticking point in the negotiations.
Removal from the black list will enable Cuba to access badly needed financing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Last week, Washington authorized commercial ferry services to Cuba for the first time in more than a half-century.
In contrast to Cuban minister, the State Department was more circumspect on the question of exchanging ambassadors, saying no date had yet been set.
It said Wednesday prior to Rodriguez's remarks that diplomatic relations had to be reestablished before ambassadors could be named.
"We're not at a point yet where we have reached successful conclusion of our talks to reestablish diplomatic relations and to establish embassies in each other's capitals," said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke, according to AFP.
"We see the exchange of ambassadors as being a logical step once the reestablishment of diplomatic relations is complete. Not the other way around. So we do not have a set timeframe for the conclusion of the talks on reestablishing diplomatic relations," he added.