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A six-day run of closed-door talks between U.S. and Cuban negotiators ended today, amid indications that a sliver of middle ground on the refugee crisis could emerge by week's end. Chief Cuban delegate Ricardo Alarcon left New York for Havana after an hourlong mini-summit this morning with Michael Skol, the U.S. representative. Alarcon, who plans to consult with higher-ups at home, said he would return "in a few days." U.S. officials, who have offered to accept 20,000 Cubans in return for a halt to the boatlift, suggested they were disappointed with a new Cuban counterproposal. TIME State Department correspondent J.F.O. McAllister, who watched this week's apparent wheel spinning from New York, says, "There is the basis for a deal here. You could make an argument for a one-time admission to clear off the backlog of refugees."