US, Cuba to re-establish diplomatic ties on Monday

Washington (IANS/EFE) The US and Cuba will on Monday re-establish diplomatic relations after half a century of enmity.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez will make a historic visit to Washington for a ceremony, after which he will meet his US counterpart John Kerry.

Seven months after US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro surprised the world by announcing a process of bilateral rapprochement, the two governments will put an end to decades of hostility by reopening their diplomatic headquarters and resuming the ties broken in 1961 and kept on ice ever since.

Rodriguez will attend the ceremony to reopen the Cuban embassy, a building constructed in 1917 some three km from the White House that currently houses the Cuban Interests Section, the low-profile diplomatic mission established – along with its US counterpart in Havana – in 1977.

The delegation headed by Rodriguez will include 30 people, among them former diplomats and representatives from the cultural, education, healthcare and scientific sectors, along with the Cuban Catholic Church and other organisations.

Some 500 Americans have been invited to the ceremony, including lawmakers, government officials and Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Roberta Jacobson.

After the ceremony, Rodriguez will travel to the State Department to meet Kerry, their second official meeting after their get-together in Panama on the eve of the Summit of the Americas last April.

The US is holding off on its ceremony to open its own embassy in Havana until Kerry visits the Cuban capital, but no date has been fixed for that trip yet.

The US flag will not wave over the embassy until Kerry officially inaugurates the diplomatic mission.

The current heads of the Cuban and US Interests Sections, Jose Ramon Cabanas and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, respectively, will become the charges d’affaires at both missions until the governments can name ambassadors.

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