Negotiators from the U.S. and Cuba will meet in Washington on Thursday to discuss restoring diplomatic relations and reopening embassies between the two countries. An anonymous State Department official told The New York Times that the U.S. and Cuba are "closer than we have been in the past" to a deal.
In December, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would restore ties between the two countries, in an effort to fix relations that were broken during the Cold War. The U.S. and Cuban governments closed their embassies in each others' countries after President Dwight Eisenhower ended diplomatic relations in 1961.
A few sticking points still remain, however. Cuba has not confirmed that U.S. diplomats "would be able to travel freely on the island," the Times notes. Under the current restrictions, Cuban diplomats in the U.S. must stay in Washington and New York, and U.S. diplomats in Cuba need permission to leave Havana. Obama also plans to remove Cuba from the State Department's list of nations that sponsor international terrorism; officials expect Cuba will be removed from the list next week.