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U.S. calls for OAS to talk with Cuba about membership

Cuba's decades-old suspension from the Organization of American States appears to be coming to an end.

As more countries clamor to lift the communist country's 1962 suspension from the hemispheric group, the U.S. State Department threw a curve ball at the debate late Tuesday by submitting a new proposal that would eventually allow Cuba back to the OAS -- as long as Havana abides by the organization's democratic principles.

The OAS meets Wednesday in Washington to review three proposals submitted that ultimately reach the same goal: an end to Cuba's suspension.

Just how the suspension should be lifted will be taken up at the group's permanent council meeting in Washington, where they will hammer out a final agenda for thegeneral assembly next week in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The U.S. proposal calls for the OAS to ''initiate a dialogue'' with Cuba about its eventual reintegration to the hemispheric body -- "consistent with principles and values of the OAS charter, the InterAmerican Democratic charter and other instruments.''

If approved, the OAS Permanent Council would start those talks, and report back in a year.

In the bid submitted Tuesday evening by Washington's deputy representative to the OAS, W. Lewis Amselem, Washington acknowledged that "some of the circumstances since Cuba's suspension from full participation in the OAS may have changed.''

Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962, officially because of its alliance with the Soviet Union. But as more leftists were elected to lead Latin American nations in the past years, pressure increased to lift the suspension.

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