Cuba has freed some of 53 people the United States regards as political prisoners as agreed under last month's US-Cuban rapprochement, the State Department has said.

"They have already released some of the prisoners, we would like to see this completed in the near future," spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, saying she would not provide a specific number.

On Monday, Psaki had said she was unable to say whether any of the 53 had yet been freed.

Last month US President Barack Obama signalled a historic shift in US ties with Cuba, ordering his administration to initiate steps to normalise relations.

The State Department must also study the prospects of lifting communist-run Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Obama also wants to eventually gain cooperation from Congress in lifting the 54-year-old US trade embargo on Cuba which he has described as "self-defeating."

Senior officials from both countries are due to meet to start the process of normalising ties in Havana later in January. An exact date has not been set.

Source: Agencies