BBC News is reporting that the US and Cuba are to start talks to normalize diplomatic ties in a historic shift in relations between the two countries, US officials say.
The US is also looking to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months.
The moves are part of a deal that saw the release of American Alan Gross by Cuba and includes the release of three Cubans jailed in Florida for spying. Gross, 65, was jailed for trying to bring internet services to communities in Cuba. He was freed on humanitarian grounds.
President Barack Obama confirmed the plan to normalize diplomatic ties and ease economic restrictions on the nation, which he called the end of an “outdated approach” to U.S.-Cuban relations.
Alexandra Jaffe and Elise Labott of CNN write:
“Obama said he’s instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, and that the U.S. will re-open an embassy in Havana. The administration will also allow some travel and trade that had been banned under a decades-long embargo instated during the Kennedy administration.
‘Neither the American nor Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,’ Obama said.
He later added: ‘I believe we can do more to support the Cuban people, and promote our values, through engagements. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.'”