Kerry and Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez met in Panama City on Thursday evening on the eve of the Summit of the Americas, the first meeting of this level since 1958, one year before Fidel Castro's revolution.

The chief diplomats "had a lengthy and very constructive discussion this evening. The two agreed they made progress and that we would continue to work to resolve outstanding issues," a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity.
The US State Department's Twitter account published a picture of Kerry and Rodriguez looking at the camera with straight faces as they shake hands in a room with two chairs and a glass coffee table.

US President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro landed hours earlier in Panama ahead of the Friday-Saturday summit, where they will interact in another milestone in their efforts to thaw relations that froze in 1961.

Obama was moving closer to removing a major hurdle in the US-Cuba diplomatic thaw, as a US senator indicated that the State Department recommended removing Havana from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Senator Ben Cardin, a leading member of the upper chamber's foreign relations committee, said the removal was "an important step forward in our efforts to forge a more fruitful relationship with Cuba."

During a trip to Jamaica before heading to Panama, Obama confirmed that the State Department had completed a review of Cuba's inclusion on the list, but he declined to say what it recommended.
Having Cuba's name on the list has been a major sticking point in negotiations aimed at reopening embassies, which closed after the foes broke relations in 1961.
The blacklisting meant that Cuba was subject to a ban on weapons exports and economic aid as well as financial sanctions that make it difficult to get World Bank and other loans.
Cuba was first put on the list, which also includes Syria, Sudan and Iran, in 1982 for harboring ETA Basque separatist militants and Colombian FARC rebels.
Obama said the overall talks on establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba were moving along as he expected.

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