The U.S. and Cuba have agreed to resume migration and postal talks, according to a State Department official who briefed reporters.

Diplomats from both countries met in Washington yesterday and agreed to resume talks that have been suspended for six years on legal and illegal migration from Cuba to the U.S. The two officials also agreed to discuss the resumption of direct mail service, which hasn’t existed for decades.

The U.S. and Cuba have not had full diplomatic ties in the aftermath of the 1959 communist revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. Raul Castro formally succeeded his brother as president last year. The U.S. currently issues about 20,000 immigration visas a year for Cubans who apply through a lottery system in the Cuban Interests Section in Havana.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is traveling today to El Salvador to participate in talks on commerce and economic development with Latin American trade partners and attend the inauguration of Mauricio Funes as president tomorrow. She will attend a June 2 summit meeting of the Organization of American States in Honduras at which the possible readmission of Cuba to the group will likely be discussed.

The official, who spoke to reporters just before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left on a trip to El Salvador and Honduras, said the Cuban response was a positive development and “clear signal” that the administration and the Havana government are willing to engage.

The Obama administration’s decision to propose migration and postal talks with Cuba, and Cuba’s agreement, were a sign of President Barack Obama’s policy of using dialogue to improve strained relations with the communist state, according to the U.S. official who met with a Cuban counterpart yesterday.

“This is a clear signal that we’re serious in following up the president’s direction and we’re intent on starting up a new relationship,” the official said. “The idea is to identify areas of cooperation that would be mutually beneficial.”

No date or place have yet been set for the talks.

The United States hopes the migration talks could decrease the chances of a mass exodus of Cubans like the flood of refugees who left in 1980 and again in 1994.