WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The United States and Cuba will hold their eighth round of talks on migration issues in Havana on Dec. 2, the State Department said on Monday.
Department spokesman James Rubin said the purpose of the talks was to review technical details and "ensure the continued smooth operation and implementation of the migration agreements.''
Migration agreements signed by Washington and Havana in 1994 and 1995 helped curb the outflow of migrants in unseaworthy vessels, while preserving protections for refugees, he said in a statement released late on Monday.
He said the accords had also "significantly expanded opportunities for safe, legal and orderly migration from Cuba to the United States.''
"As a result, many lives that would have been lost at sea have been saved, and many families separated for decades across the Florida Straits have been safely reunited in the United States,'' Rubin said.
The latest talks on migration, one of the few areas in which Washington and Havana cooperate, come on the heels of last week's trial in Cuba at which an American was sentenced to 15 years in prison for promoting an armed uprising.
State Department officials on Monday said the trial contained "certain deficiencies,'' but the man, Walter Van Der Veer, had told U.S. diplomats that he did not plan to appeal.
Van Der Veer, 52, was accused of belonging to a radical anti-communist Cuban exile group and of planning an armed revolt, sabotage and grenade attacks in Cuba.
The U.S. and Cuban delegations were to meet in Havana on Tuesday. The last such talks took place in New York in July.
Under the 1995 agreement, Washington undertook to repatriate Cuban boat people intercepted trying to reach the United States, while at the same time increasing the number of visas it grants Cubans to 20,000 a year.
The aim, largely achieved, was to halt a flow of Cuban boat people over the Florida Straits that reached a crisis point in August 1994 when more than 30,000 Cubans left the communist-ruled island on flimsy rafts.
The two countries, which have no diplomatic relations, have been political enemies since the 1959 revolution that brought Cuba's President Fidel Castro to power.