US Welcomes Cuba Move on Prisoner Release

US Welcomes Cuba Move on Prisoner ReleaseUS Welcomes Cuba Move on Prisoner Release

The United States hailed Friday the “significant” release of at least 35 political prisoners in the past 48 hours in Cuba, part of moves to normalize ties between the two countries.

Washington and Havana announced a historic rapprochement in mid-December in which Cuba agreed to free 53 detained dissidents as part of the deal to end a five-decade standoff with the United States, AFP reported.

“We welcome the significant and ongoing release of political prisoners by the Cuban government,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“I’m not going to confirm numbers or names at this point in time. But these releases are certainly consistent with the cases that we raised with the Cuban government and their decision to release the 53 prisoners.”

The number freed to date was disclosed by dissident leaders in Cuba, with both governments staying tight-lipped as to the exact figure so far.

“There are more that will be released,” added Psaki. “We are hoping that will happen as soon as possible. The Cuban government has committed to the release of these prisoners. Obviously, we’ve seen a significant release over the past 24 to 48 hours.”

At the time of the December rapprochement, Cuban dissidents said some 100 political prisoners were languishing in jail. The US and Cuba will meet on January 21-22 for their first talks on normalizing diplomatic relations.