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US and Cuba to open embassies, restore ties

4 years 7 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, July 01 2015 Jul 1, 2015 July 01, 2015 10:38 AM July 01, 2015 in News
Source: Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria - Secretary of State John Kerry says he'll travel later this summer to Havana to raise the stars-and-stripes over the new U.S. Embassy to Cuba.

Kerry didn't give a precise date for opening the embassy. He called Wednesday's announcement of normalized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba "long overdue."

Kerry also credited Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro with making a necessary change.

Speaking in Vienna, where he was attending nuclear talks with Iran, Kerry said the former Cold War foes still have sharp differences over democracy, human rights and other matters.

An embassy, he said, will allow the U.S. to engage the Cuban government and people, and help Americans traveling to the island.

Kerry, recovering from a broken leg, spoke from a city square with crutches at his side.

Meanwhile, Cuban President Raul Castro says he is "pleased" to confirm his country will resume diplomatic ties with the United States.

Castro writes in a letter to President Barack Obama that Cuba is doing so because it is "encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations and cooperation between our people and governments."

However a separate statement from the government says reopening embassies is just the first step in "a long and complex process toward normalization of bilateral ties." It demands an end to the U.S. embargo, the return of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, a halt to U.S. radio and TV broadcasts aimed at the other island and other grievances.

Castro's letter and the government statement were read out by a presenter on state television Wednesday morning.

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