The United States and Cuba have formally agreed to restore diplomatic ties and reopen their embassies, President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday, describing it as a “historic step” toward normalizing relations.
“The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said from the White House Rose Garden. “When something isn’t working, we can – and will – change.”
“This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people, and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas,” he said.
Under formal letters exchanged between the US and Cuba on Wednesday, full diplomatic relations will resume on July 20 between the two nations. Embassies could be opened at that time or later.
“When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don’t think anyone thought it would be more than half a century before it reopened,” Obama said on Wednesday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Vienna, said he would visit Havana to raise the US flag outside the upcoming US embassy, Reuters reported.
Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed the restoration of diplomatic ties, saying they should reinforce the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in his country.
“Cuba is encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between our two peoples and governments,” Castro wrote in a letter to Obama.
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