US commerce secretary visiting Cuba for talks on easing trade embargo against the island

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HAVANA — The U.S. commerce secretary arrived in Cuba on Tuesday for talks about steps taken by President Barack Obama to ease the trade embargo against the communist-ruled island.

Secretary Penny Pritzker started her visit with a stop at the Mariel free trade zone near Cuba's capital of Havana.

Pritzker is leading a delegation of officials from the U.S. Treasury, Commerce and State departments for meetings with officials from Cuban government ministries and businesses.

Cuba's foreign ministry said in a statement that the goal of the meetings is an "exchange over the reach and limitations of the measures recently taken by the U.S. government to modify some aspects of the application of the embargo against Cuba."

Obama has eased economic restrictions on Cuba since starting the U.S. on the road to closer relations with Cuba. A trade embargo remains in place under U.S. law, but Obama is now allowing U.S. firms to send supplies to private Cuban businesses and export telephones, computers and Internet technology.

Pritzker is the most senior U.S. official to arrive in Cuba since Secretary of State John Kerry's Aug. 14 visit.

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