US and Cuba announce embassies

There has not been a US embassy in the Cuban capital Havana since the 1960s

There has not been a US embassy in the Cuban capital Havana since the 1960s

The US and Cuba have agreed to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, a major step in re-establishing diplomatic ties severed in 1961.

Cuba said Havana and Washington will restore full diplomatic relations and open embassies on July 20.

Relations had been frozen since the early 1960s when the US broke links and imposed a trade embargo with the communist island.

But the two sides agreed to normalise relations at the end of 2014.

The country’s two leaders held historic talks in April.

Since 1977, the US and Cuba have operated diplomatic missions called “interests sections” in each other’s capitals under the legal protection of Switzerland. However, they do not enjoy the same status as full embassies.

The US’ top diplomat, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, delivered a letter from the White House about restoring the embassies to Cuba’s foreign ministry yesterday morning.

US officials said President Barack Obama was expected to make a formal announcement from the White House at 15:00 yesterday.

It is the latest major milestone in a thawing process between the two countries’ relations, which started with secret negotiations and was announced last December.

In April, President Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, met for the first formal talks between the two countries’ leaders in more than half a century.

A month later, the US removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Plans to resume ferry and air services between the US and Cuba were also announced.

Despite the new transport links, a Cuba travel ban is still in place for US citizens.

Cuba is also still subject to a US arms embargo which has been in place since 1962, though President Obama has urged Congress to lift it.

The US broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1959 after Fidel Castro and his brother Raul led a revolution toppling US-backed President Fulgencio Batista. The Castros established a revolutionary socialist state with close ties to the Soviet Union.

In December 2014, the two presidents made a surprise announcement saying they would seek to re-establish diplomatic ties, ending more than 50 years of ill-will.


Print Friendly

Leave a Comment