Cuba urges US to lift economic sanctions

"Despite the steps that have been taken there are still significant restrictions that limit U.S. exports; very few Cuban products can be imported into the United States and there are no normal banking relations between both countries," said Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry's chief of U.S. affairs.

She made the remark here after senior Cuban and U.S. officials held a new round of talks, in which both sides agreed to continue deepening cooperation in areas like health, agriculture, law enforcement and meteorology.

Vidal said the U.S. trade embargo, which was imposed more than half a century ago, still affect Havana's relations with the United States and other countries.

She said Havana reiterated its political will to advance towards a respectful and constructive relationship with Washington and demanded the United States lift its economic blockade as a condition for fully normalizing ties.

Vidal called on the next U.S. president to "listen and pay attention" to a large segment of that country's public opinion which calls for normal relations with Cuba and the lifting of the embargo.

Vidal reaffirmed Cuba's demand to retrieve the territory occupied by the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo.

The Cuban official also said that both Cuba and the United States have agreed to continue to explore areas of cooperation.

"The agenda for the coming months is ambitious as we seek to begin new paths of exchanges, agreements, high-level visits and talks that we want to establish and contribute to this ongoing process of normalizing relations between both countries," Vidal said.

The two countries restored diplomatic relations in July 2015.

"There have been advances with important high-level visits to each nation, technical meetings by experts on different issues as well as agreements to reestablish regular commercial flights and postal services," she added.

She said both sides agreed to start talks on intellectual property and follow up on areas like climate change as well as economic and commercial regulations.

Both countries agreed to meet again in September in Washington to continue talks on the normalization of ties.

The U.S. delegation was headed by Kristie Kenney, counselor of the State Department.

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