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American flag hoisted at US embassy in Cuba for first time in 54 years

August 14, 2015, 19:58 UTC+3 HAVANA
The ceremony was led by John Kerry who became the first US secretary of state to visit Cuba since 1945
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Secretary of State John Kerry, and other dignitaries watch as US Marines raise the US flag over the newly reopened embassy in Havana, Cuba

Secretary of State John Kerry, and other dignitaries watch as US Marines raise the US flag over the newly reopened embassy in Havana, Cuba

© AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais,Pool

HAVANA, August 14. /TASS/. The American flag was hoisted on Friday at the US embassy in Cuba as Washington and Havana marked the restoration of diplomatic relations severed in 1961.

The ceremony was led by John Kerry who became the first US secretary of state to visit Cuba since 1945.

"We are gathered here today because our leaders, President Obama and President Castro made a courageous decision to stop in the prisoners of history, and to focus on the opportunities today in tomorrow. This doesn't mean that we should or will forget the past," Kerry said before the flag was raised.

"We are all aware that notwithstanding President Obama's new policy, the overall US embargo on trade with Cuba remains in place and can only be lifted by congressional action, a step that we strongly favor," he added.

Three retired US Marines, Larry Morris, Mike East and James Tracy, who lowered the flag when the U.S. embassy closed in 1961 handed a new flag to three marine guards who raised it to applause and cheers.

The US chief diplomat in Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis said Havana and Washington had "a long, complex road to travel, but it is the right road."

Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, who read a poem at US President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013, recited his new work at the ceremony broadcast live by Cuban TV.

The embassy overlooking Havana's seafront boulevard, the Malecon, was built in 1953.

The Cuban embassy in Washington DC was reopened on July 20.

Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced plans to re-establish diplomatic ties in December 2014.

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