U.S., Cuba restoring diplomatic ties after 54 years

The United States and Cuba are set to announce the restoration of diplomatic relations on Wednesday, the result of a two-year courtship between former Cold War rivals who severed ties in 1961, Reuters reports.

The chief of the U.S. interests section in Havana will report to Cuban Foreign Ministry to deliver a letter from U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuban President Raul Castro.

Obama will then speak from the White House’s ceremonial Rose Garden. It was unknown whether Castro would reciprocate with comments of his own.

Following 18 months of secret negotiations brokered by Pope Francis and Canada, the two leaders announced separately but simultaneously last December that they planned to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals and normalize relations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected at a flag-raising ceremony in Havana later this month, when the so-called U.S. interests section will become a full embassy. Cuba’s mission in Washington will undergo a similar upgrade.

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