Scientists of Cuba and the United States said here Tuesday that they believe progress is being made toward their future cooperation despite the complex relations existing between their respective governments for half a century.

"I think both sides can benefit from collaboration and that this is the best way to develop future projects," the U.S. winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Peter Agre, told Efe, during a recess of the meeting organized by the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Until Friday, 18 U.S. scientists will analyze, together with experts from institutions on the Communist-ruled island, possible avenues of cooperation for research projects in such areas as meteorology, the environment, genetics, biotechnology, tropical medicine and oceanography.

"There's a lot we could learn from scientists in Cuba," Agre, who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said.

As an example he cited vaccines, treatments for malaria and other public health matters that have been studied on the island.

The scientist said that contacts are still meager and described as "ridiculous" the idea that normal relations cannot exist between his country and Cuba.

The U.S. visit takes advantage of the small opening for cultural and scientific exchanges that has been created in the last year between the two countries.

Exchanges between the two countries of a scientific, academic, sports and cultural nature are heavily restricted as part of the economic embargo that the United States has imposed on the island since 1962.

The Barack Obama administration announced last January a new easing of regulations on travel to Cuba from the United States.