Cuba and the United States will debate human rights at a meeting in Washington on Tuesday in another sign of the thaw between the countries trying to re-establish normal diplomatic relations after a 50-year freeze.

The discussions seem unlikely to lead to short-term changes in the way either country views rights issues. The U.S. is expected to press Cuba to allow its citizens greater freedom of speech, assembly and political activity. Cuba likely will respond with its own critiques of poverty, insufficient health-care coverage and excessive police force in the United States.

But observers say even the start of a dialogue is an indication of progress in the countries' broader move to normalize relations.

The U.S. hopes to open an embassy in Havana by next month.