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Mayor Wants Cuban Consulate In Miami Beach

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) -- Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine says he'd welcome a Cuban consulate in the city.

The mayor along with Commissioner Ricky Arriola had a private meeting with officials at Cuba's Foreign Relations Ministry, according to our news partners at The Miami Herald.

Their meeting comes amid a diplomatic stalemate in which Miami refuses to have a Cuban consulate and the other option, Tampa, is considered too far away.

"They expressed to us the fact that they know that they're not welcome in the city of Miami. And myself, in my opinion, and Commissioner Arriola's independent opinion, was that we would like to see the consulate welcomed in Miami Beach in the future, if that were to come about," said Mayor Levine. "Now, they made it very clear to us that that this is very premature at this time, that they basically have a lot more things to do before that were to ever come about."

The possibility of a Cuban consulate in Miami, which houses the largest Cuban exile population, has caused an uproar in Miami politics.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado opposed a consulate in the city and has threatened to sue in federal court. His father was once a political prisoner in the country.

As for Miami-Dade County, commissioners passed a resolution in January for the U.S. to keep a consulate away from the county.

But the decision is not up to the local governments. Even if Miami Beach does lobby for consideration, it would have to go to a full commission for a vote, Levine told the paper.

A spokesperson for Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement Thursday on the matter saying:

"Ultimately, this is not a decision for a municipal mayor. It is a decision for the federal and Cuban governments.

Miami-Dade County hosts approximately 50 consulates. If the federal government determines that our community should be the location for a consulate for Cuba, Miami-Dade County will work with the State Department and Cuban personnel just as it does with the consulates of the 50 other countries."

Levine said he doesn't expect any quick movement on a consulate. Both countries have other issues to deal with first.

Meantime, Cuba already has an embassy in Washington that opened last July.

Click here to read more about U.S.- Cuba Relations.

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