The US and Cuba announce moves to normalise ties :

Obama hails ‘new chapter’ in US-Cuba ties

President Obama: “Today America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past”


Obama and Castro Mr Obama and Mr Castro met a year ago at Nelson Mandela’s funeral

President Raul Castro has welcomed President Obama’s plan for a new chapter in US relations with Cuba.

But in a televised address, he urged Washington to lift its trade and economic embargo on the communist-run island.

The move is part of a deal which saw a prisoner exchange between the two countries.

The US and Cuba announce moves to normalise ties in a major policy shift, following the release by Cuba of US contractor Alan Gross.

The US is looking to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months, Mr Obama said.

The plans set out in a White House statement also include:

  • Reviewing the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism
  • Easing a travel ban for US citizens
  • Easing financial restrictions
  • Increasing telecommunications links
  • Efforts to lift the 54-year-old trade embargo

Mr Castro said the changes were something Cuba had been pressing for for a long time.

“Ever since my election… I have reiterated on many occasions our preparedness to hold a respectful dialogue with the government of the United States based on sovereign equality,” he said.

President Castro urged Washington to lift a trade and economic embargo imposed on the communist-run island – a move that can only be made by Congress.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has criticised the new US policy, saying it would do nothing to address the issues of Cuba’s political system and human rights record.

US and Cuba

54 yearssince trade embargo imposed$1.1 trillioncost to Cuban economy

Cost to US economy $1.2bn a year.

  • Cuban presidents since 1960: 3
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