In this March 16, 2015 photo, magnets for sale decorate a tourist shop at a market in Havana, Cuba. (AP/Ramon Espinosa)
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The United States and Cuba are on the verge of a deal to restore regular airline flights, jumpstarting economic relations that have languished despite a year of rapid progress on the diplomatic front, Cuba's top negotiator said on the eve of the anniversary of detente between the Cold War foes.The deal being thrashed out at marathon talks in Washington would open the way for U.S. airlines to negotiate with Cuba's government for routes that could bring thousands more visitors a day to the island. The reestablishment of commercial U.S. flights to Cuba after half a century would be the biggest business development since the two countries began normalizing relations last year. The United States and Cuba publicly say they're delighted with the state of diplomatic relations a year after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared the end to more than 50 years of official hostility.U.S. travel from Cuba is up more than 50 percent from last year even though flying today requires wrangling with charter airlines that are expensive and difficult to book.The U.S. has expressed disappointment with what it calls Cuba's unwillingness to cooperate with executive actions such as allowing U.S. exports to the Cuban private sector and sales of equipment to the Cuban state telecommunications company.
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