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U.S., Cuban talks begin today

The United States and Cuba plan to begin talks today on migration issues, most of them growing out of the agreement last month that ended the exodus of Cuban boat people.

Cuban officials say that while they have kept their promise to curb the exodus, the State Department has not moved quickly to carry out its pledge to allow the migration of a minimum of 20,000 Cubans annually to the United States.

State Department officials say 10 new consular officials were added to staff here to handle the increased workload.

Cuba's interest is in linking migration issues to the Cuban economy and the adverse impact of the U.S. economic embargo. The Clinton administration has resisted such linkage.

The Cuban delegation will be led by National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon. Dennis Hays, the State Department coordinator for Cuban affairs, will be the chief U.S. delegate.

The United States recently announced that immigrant visas will be given to about 5,000 Cubans based on selection by a lottery that U.S. officials plan to operate. Details will be announced by Nov. 1.

The lottery is designed to give a chance to Cubans generally ineligible for immigrant visas because they have no close relatives in the United States.