HAVANA TIMES — Cuba will open its embassy in Washington on July 20th, announced the government of Raul Castro on Wednesday, a major step in the new relationship between Cuba and the USA, reported dpa.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez will make a special trip to Washington on that date for the opening ceremony. The United States, meanwhile, did not yet give a date for the pending grand opening of its embassy in Havana to be attended by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Raul Castro sent a letter today to President Barack Obama, confirming the intention of his government to open the embassy on July 20.
“I am pleased to write to you to confirm that the Republic of Cuba has decided to resume diplomatic relations with the United States and open permanent diplomatic missions in our respective countries on July 20,” Castro said in the text.
Obama confirmed shortly after that US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana to reopen the US embassy, but did not mention a specific date.
Kerry will travel “later this summer to Havana to proudly hoist the American flag,” said Obama, calling it a “historic step” between the two countries during a brief speech from the White House.
“We should not be prisoners of the past. When something does not work (in reference to previous policy toward Cuba) it can and must change,” Obama said.
Obama and Raul Castro made a surprise announcement last December 17 of a historic diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries after more than half a century of hostilities, then sealed it with a prisoner exchange.
The US unilaterally broke off relations with Cuba in 1961, two years after the triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro and after the expropriation of numerous US companies on the island. A year later the US imposed a harsh economic and trade embargo against the island that is still in effect.
One of the coming steps in the long process towards normalization will be for the two administrations to appoint ambassadors for their respective embassies.