US, Cuba discuss steps to advance ties

Washington, Sep 19 (IANS) US President Barack Obama discussed with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro steps that the two countries could take to advance bilateral cooperation, the White House said.

In a telephone conversation on Friday, the two leaders underscored the importance of the US and Cuba re-establishing diplomatic ties and the reopening of embassies in their respective countries, Xinhua quoted the White House as saying.

The two talked about the cooperation between US and Cuban medical professionals during the US Naval Ship Comfort’s visit to Haiti.

The talk came on the day when the US announced new measures to ease travel and business restrictions on Cuba, two months after Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic ties, ending more than five decades of enmity.

On Friday, Obama and Castro also commended the role that Pope Francis has played in improving relations between the US and Cuba in advance of his upcoming visits to both countries.

Pope Francis will start his four-day visit to Cuba on Saturday before heading to the US. Obama will host Pope Francis at the White House on Wednesday.

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