The Clinton administration plans to let Cuba open news bureaus in the United States and eliminate obstacles barring the U.S. media from setting up bureaus on the communist island, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

The announcement of the plan to exchange news bureaus is expected early next year, the Herald reported, quoting unnamed State Department and White House sources.The move could be a first step toward improving news gathering between the two countries after 25 years of difficult access for journalists.

After Havana expelled the last U.S. correspondent based in Cuba in 1969, the United States shut down all Cuban news bureaus except the one at U.N. headquarters. Reporters from both countries have had to apply for visas on a temporary, case-by-case basis ever since.

The visa requests of American journalists are often turned down or ignored by Cuban officials.

The administration plan calls for setting up reciprocal news bureaus in each country and for the approval of licenses that would allow U.S. news organizations to spend money in Cuba to establish operations there.

Cuban officials declined to say publicly how they would respond to the initiative.

The administration took a step toward opening news links with Cuba by granting visas to nearly a dozen Cuban journalists to cover the Summit of the Americas in Miami. One of the reporters defected.

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