Above: US President Barack Obama makes the announcement
By the Cuba Journal staff
The United States and Cuba have decided to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies, US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday.
The move was confirmed in a letter from Obama to Cuba President Raul Castro.
“This is an important step forward in the process of normalizing relations between our two countries and peoples that we initiated last December.”
The announcement comes after months of high-level talks between US and Cuban officials in both Washington and Havana.
The move will become official on July 20, according to Obama.
“In making this decision, the United States is encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between our two peoples and governments consistent with the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including those related to sovereign equality of States, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of States respect for equal rights and self-determination of peoples, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, and promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all,” Obama wrote in the letter.
The news means the United States will have its first embassy in Havana since 1961.
US Secretary of State John Kerry he would personally travel to Cuba to take part in the formal reopening of the US Embassy.
He noted the historic nature of the move though cautioned that the two sides still had “sharp differences over democracy, human rights, and related issues, but we also have identified areas for cooperation that include law enforcement, safe transportation, emergency response, environmental protection, telecommunications, and migration.”
“This step has been long overdue, and the response of the international community has reflected the relief and the welcoming that people all over the world feel for this step,” Kerry said. “This transition, this moment in history, is taking place because President Obama made a personal, fundamental decision to change a policy that didn’t work and that had been in place not working for far too long.”
In a letter from Castro to Obama, Cuba’s President said he was “pleased” to confirm the decision.
“The Cuban side assumes this decision, animated by the mutual intention to develop friendly relations and cooperation between our peoples and governments.”