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US, Cuba reopening embassies after more than 50 years

July 20, 2015, 8:12 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
The American mission in the Cuban capital will be transformed into an embassy
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WASHINGTON/HAVANA, July 20. /TASS/. The United States and Cuba will begin a new stage of relations on Monday by reopening their embassies in Washington and Havana. The states are restoring diplomatic relations and taking the last step to leave behind half a century of mutual hostility and mistrust.

The American mission in the Cuban capital will be transformed into an embassy without any official ceremonies. The US Interests Section in Havana will be transferred into the category of an embassy without hoisting the national flag of the United States. According to an unnamed official of the US State Department, quoted by the Cuban media, there are no legal requirements for hoisting the flag for the official opening of a diplomatic mission. This important event will take place during US Secretary of State John Kerry’ visit to Havana to be held shortly, the official added. However, Kerry’s visit date has not been specified.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla will travel to the Cuban Embassy in Washington to raise his country's flag, an event that Cuban government officials said will be broadcast live on the island's state-run TV, CCN reported.

"A new stage will begin, long and complex, on the road toward normalization," Cuban President Raul Castro said in a televised address last week to the Cuban people. "Which will require the will to find solutions to the problems that have accumulated over more than five decades and hurt ties between our nations and peoples."

As a result of the restoration of the relations, which had been broken by Washington in 1961, the agreements with Switzerland as a mediator in the relations between the two countries will be recognised null and void. Employees of the US Interests Section will receive a new accreditation as the U.S. embassy staff members, ··and the head of the mission - as the temporary charge d'affaires. All the personnel will be transferred to the diplomatic corps status.

The ceremony in Washington is scheduled for 10:30am (17:30pm, Moscow time) in the building, which previously housed the Cuban Interests Section. A US State Department official said that the American side’s presence at these events will be limited. A U.S. delegation will be sent there. However, no speeches are planned, he said. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said for his part that Secretary John Kerry was not going to take part in the ceremony. However, Chief of Mission at the US Interests Section in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis will attend it.

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