POLITICS

U.S. Officials Seek To Establish Embassy In Cuba, Lift Travel Restrictions

WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The United States will try to convince Cuba to lift travel restrictions and upgrade its interest section to an embassy during historic talks in Havana this week, a senior State Department official said on Monday.

"We are looking forward to the Cubans lifting travel restrictions, to trying to lift the caps on the number of our diplomat personnel, to try to gain unimpeded shipments for our mission and to the free access to our mission by Cubans," the official told a conference call.

The talks aimed at normalization relations with Cuba will be led by Roberta Jacobson, the State Department's top diplomat for Latin America, the first visit by a senior American diplomat in more than three decades.

The official, however, said it was hard to know exactly what would come out of the talks on Jan. 21-23. "It is hard to know exactly what will come out of this first conversation," the official said. "We are not oblivious to the weight of history." (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • 1950 - Cars are parked along a narrow street as pedestrians walk in the shade in Havana, Cuba. At the time, the cars were con
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images
    1950 - Cars are parked along a narrow street as pedestrians walk in the shade in Havana, Cuba. At the time, the cars were considered new models. Now the same cars are still being driven.
  • Circa 1950 - Children play outside their shanty homes in Oriente Province, Cuba.
    Elizabeth Frey/Three Lions/Getty Images
    Circa 1950 - Children play outside their shanty homes in Oriente Province, Cuba.
  • Circa 1960 - Workers at a sugar factory in Cuba. Once one of the top sugar exporters in the world, Cuba's global share in the
    Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
    Circa 1960 - Workers at a sugar factory in Cuba. Once one of the top sugar exporters in the world, Cuba's global share in the sugar industry has fallen from 12 percent in the 1960s to just 1 percent today, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Circa 1969 - Fishermen in Manzanillo. In recent years, Cuba's fishing industry has been <a href="http://www.edf.org/blog/2013
    Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
    Circa 1969 - Fishermen in Manzanillo. In recent years, Cuba's fishing industry has been negatively affected by overfishing, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • 1980 - A 1950s model Chevrolet is parked on the street in Havana.
    Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
    1980 - A 1950s model Chevrolet is parked on the street in Havana.
  • 1988 - Men sort empty bottles on a street in Havana.
    Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
    1988 - Men sort empty bottles on a street in Havana.
  • 1988 - Bodeguita del Medio, the most famous bar of Havana, frequented by Ernest Hemingway. The lifting of the trade embargo c
    Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
    1988 - Bodeguita del Medio, the most famous bar of Havana, frequented by Ernest Hemingway. The lifting of the trade embargo could stir a renaissance in Cuban-made spirits, specifically rum, The New York Post reports.
  • 1993 - A fisherman and his wife sell their latest catch of fish. Previously, the pair had only fished for pleasure but an eco
    ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
    1993 - A fisherman and his wife sell their latest catch of fish. Previously, the pair had only fished for pleasure but an economic crisis forced them to begin selling their catch.
  • 1994 - Farmer with an ox team in the Vinales Valley, Cuba. Cuban farming has struggled in recent years due to the <a href="ht
    Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images
    1994 - Farmer with an ox team in the Vinales Valley, Cuba. Cuban farming has struggled in recent years due to the lack of availability of modern farm equipment, The Telegraph reports.
  • 1994 - Two people on a bicycle in rural Cuba.
    Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images
    1994 - Two people on a bicycle in rural Cuba.
  • 1994 - Farm workers loading bananas.
    Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images
    1994 - Farm workers loading bananas.
  • Circa 1995 - In the company of her daughter, a worker at a tobacco leaf cleaning station gets leaves ready for shipping to a
    ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
    Circa 1995 - In the company of her daughter, a worker at a tobacco leaf cleaning station gets leaves ready for shipping to a tobacco manufacturer in San Juan y Matinez, site of one of the most important tobacco plantations in Cuba.
  • 1997 - A steam train outside Havana.
    Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
    1997 - A steam train outside Havana.
  • Date unknown - An old woman smokes an oversize cigar while working cigar maker Partagas in the Cuban capital Havana.
    Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images
    Date unknown - An old woman smokes an oversize cigar while working cigar maker Partagas in the Cuban capital Havana.
  • 1999 - Cubans shop in one of Havana's main pesos food market Quatro Caminos in Havana. The Cuban economy was on the verge of
    Robert Nickelsberg/Liaison
    1999 - Cubans shop in one of Havana's main pesos food market Quatro Caminos in Havana. The Cuban economy was on the verge of collapsing at the time after the former Soviet Union ended its aid and the US imposed an embargo on Cuba.
  • 1999 - Hundreds of Cubans are gathered on the waterfront of Havana during a school break. A majority of Havana residents opt
    ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
    1999 - Hundreds of Cubans are gathered on the waterfront of Havana during a school break. A majority of Havana residents opt for the polluted waters of the capital given the fact that they cannot reach other beaches due to the lack of transportation and the shortage of gasoline in general.
  • 1999 - Cubans stand on the balcony of their apartment in Havana, Cuba.
    Robert Nickelsberg/Liaison
    1999 - Cubans stand on the balcony of their apartment in Havana, Cuba.
  • 2001 - Street scene in the old part of town of the Cuban capital Havana.
    Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images
    2001 - Street scene in the old part of town of the Cuban capital Havana.
  • 2001 - A man reads as he sits in a plaza surrounded by pigeons in Havana.
    ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
    2001 - A man reads as he sits in a plaza surrounded by pigeons in Havana.
  • 2003 -  A young Cuban plays baseball in the streets of Havana. The normalization of relations with Cuba could eventually caus
    Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images
    2003 - A young Cuban plays baseball in the streets of Havana. The normalization of relations with Cuba could eventually cause an influx of Cuban athletes into American sports leagues, according to Vice.
  • 2003 - Several earlier model American-made cars wait to be rented  in Havana. New car imports have been allowed in Cuba since
    Jorge Rey via Getty Images
    2003 - Several earlier model American-made cars wait to be rented in Havana. New car imports have been allowed in Cuba since last year, but due to high prices, the island still largely relies on the classic cars for the time being, The Telegraph reports.
  • 2006 - A cigar roller smokes a cigar while she prepares tobacco leaves at Cuban cigar manufacturer Cohiba's factory.
    ADALBERTO ROQUE via Getty Images
    2006 - A cigar roller smokes a cigar while she prepares tobacco leaves at Cuban cigar manufacturer Cohiba's factory.
  • 2008 - A young Cuban woman distributes a limited amount of bread to her fellow citizens according to quotas of the Cuban rati
    Jan Sochor via Getty Images
    2008 - A young Cuban woman distributes a limited amount of bread to her fellow citizens according to quotas of the Cuban rationing system, Santiago de Cuba.
  • 2009 - A Cuban schoolgirl sits at the foot of the entrance stairways in Havana.
    STR via Getty Images
    2009 - A Cuban schoolgirl sits at the foot of the entrance stairways in Havana.
  • 2010 - A woman waits for a bus in front of the Capitol building in Havana.
    AP Photo/Javier Galeano
    2010 - A woman waits for a bus in front of the Capitol building in Havana.
  • 2011 - A man checks the engine of his water cistern truck in Old Havana.
    AP Photo/Javier Galeano
    2011 - A man checks the engine of his water cistern truck in Old Havana.
  • 2011 - Cigar rollers work as they listen to a reader on at H. Upmann Cigar Factory in Havana. The tradition of cigar factory
    ADALBERTO ROQUE via Getty Images
    2011 - Cigar rollers work as they listen to a reader on at H. Upmann Cigar Factory in Havana. The tradition of cigar factory readers -people that read newspapers, magazines and novels to cigar rollers- has 150 years in Cuba and there are almost 300 of them in the country.
  • 2011 - Two men drive down the highway in a classic car in Soroa.
    AP Photo/Javier Galeano
    2011 - Two men drive down the highway in a classic car in Soroa.
  • 2012 - People fill the street in a busy downtown neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba.
    Spencer Platt/Getty Images
    2012 - People fill the street in a busy downtown neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba.
  • 2012 - Cars drive down a street in Havana.
    Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
    2012 - Cars drive down a street in Havana.