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Published: Monday, 10/12/2009

Right tack on Cuba

IT'S TAKING a while, but President

Obama's pledge to improve U.S. relations with Cuba is beginning to be fulfilled.

Bisa Williams, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, visited Cuba a few weeks ago for talks. She received a friendly reception and was able to discuss with the Cuban authorities a wider range of subjects than had been the original agenda of her visit.

Her initial purpose had been resumption of mail service between the two countries. Other topics included migration and joint measures against drug trafficking. The Cubans also hosted a visit by Ms. Williams to an agricultural facility in the interior of the country.

Her visit was the first by such a high ranking official since 2002. President George W. Bush terminated twice-a-year talks on migration in 2004.

Despite this progress, it should not be thought that normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations is just around the corner. Last month Mr. Obama extended the authority for the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba by a year.

A block of ice that took 50 years to freeze won't thaw with one trip. But the direction toward improved U.S.-Cuban relations is encouraging.

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