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Cuba completed release of 53 political prisoners

Cuba has completed the release of all 53 prisoners it had promised to free, the Obama administration said on Monday, a major step toward détente with Washington.

The release is a result of an agreement last month between the U.S. and Cuba that re-established diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time in more than five decades.

It included two Americans from Cuban prisons, three Cubans from American prisons and a promise by Cuban officials to free the 53 political prisoners.

The U.S. shared the names of individuals jailed in Cuba on charges related to their political activities, during the discussions with the Cubans last month.

The U.S. is pleased with the Cuba’s decision to release the prisoners as a precondition for the normalization process of U.S-Cuba relations, the State Department said.

“The Cuban government has notified us that they have completed the release of the 53 political prisoners that they had committed to free,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. “We welcome this very positive development and are pleased that the Cuban government followed through on this commitment.”

Harf said that the political prisoners were individuals who had been cited by vario us human rights organizations as being imprisoned for exercising internationally protected freedoms or for their promotion of political and social reforms inCuba.

However, she said that a full list of the 53 prisoners were given to congressional leaders but their names would not be posted on government website.

“We’re happy for it to be in the public domain, but we also don’t want to leave the impression by posting it, you know, for example, on a government website that these are the only ones we care about or that this was the only checklist by which we would judge Cuba’s human rights situation,” she said.

Harf added that there were still going to be human rights concerns about to Cuba. The U.S. will participate in migration talks with Cuba later this month in Havana. Another State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said last week that the Jan. 21-22 talks will address how to “ensure safe, legal and orderly migration between the United States and Cuba.

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, Washington’s top diplomat for Latin America, will head the delegation.

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