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Moving on: US welcomes release of 53 political prisoners in Cuba

it’s part of the moves to normalise ties between the two countries.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED STATES hailed Friday the “significant” release of at least 35 political prisoners in the past 48 hours in Cuba, part of moves to normalise ties between the two countries.

Washington and Havana announced a historic rapprochement in mid-December in which Cuba agreed to free 53 detained dissidents as part of the deal to end a five-decade standoff with the United States.

“We welcome the significant and ongoing release of political prisoners by the Cuban government,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

I’m not going to confirm numbers or names at this point in time. But these releases are certainly consistent with the cases that we raised with the Cuban government and their decision to release the 53 prisoners.

The number freed to date was disclosed by dissident leaders in Cuba, with both governments staying tight-lipped as to the exact figure so far.

“There are more that will be released,” added Psaki. “We are hoping that will happen as soon as possible.

“The Cuban government has committed to the release of these prisoners. Obviously, we’ve seen a significant release over the past 24 to 48 hours.”

At the time of the December rapprochement, Cuban dissidents said some 100 political prisoners were languishing in jail.

The United States and Cuba will meet on January 21-22 for their first talks on normalizing diplomatic relations.

- © AFP, 2014

Explainer: What’s the new deal between the US and Cuba?>

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