US and Cuba restore diplomatic ties after 50-plus years of frozen relations

Formal move comes after months of discussions and weeks of anticipation

Payton Guion
Monday 20 July 2015 20:10

After months of intense diplomatic negotiations and political attacks, the US and Cuba quietly restored ties first thing Monday morning, repairing more than a half-century of frozen relations.

At 12:01 am, the two countries moved past the decades of enmity and formally re-established diplomatic relations, CNN reported.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at mid-morning on Monday will oversee the Cuban flag being lifted at a Washington DC mansion that will serve as the Cuban embassy.

Mr Rodriguez will then meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department, the first Cuban foreign minister to make an officials visit to Washington since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Reuters reported.

Prior to the Cuban flag-raising ceremony, the US Interests Section in Havana — which has been the US diplomatic post in Cuba for years — announced that its name was now “US Embassy Havana”.

The American flag will not be raised there until next month, however, when Mr Kerry makes his first official visit.

“We wanted the Secretary to be there to oversee these important events,” a State Department official told Reuters.

Cuba and the US have held four rounds of talks aimed at repairing relations over the past several months, during which time Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands and held a meeting during a regional summit.

In May, the US cleared a huge stumbling block when it removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, something Cuba indicated was crucial in reestablishing diplomatic ties.

To open an embassy in Havana, the US State Department has to inform Congress of its intent to do so. Congress then would have 15 days the review the proposal before the US could open the embassy.

Officials said the notice to Congress would come at the same time as the formal announcement of plans to reopen embassies, according to the Journal.

But even if both embassies open, the US trade embargo on Cuba and travel restrictions would remain. Congress must lift the embargo and travel ban, both of which have been in place since the 1960s.

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