The front page of today's edition of Cuban state-owned daily Granma published in full the letters exchanged by Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama announcing the formal re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. The letters set a date for the re-opening of embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C. on July 20.
The announcement is a significant step forward in improving the ties between the historic foes, a process first made public in December. Havana and Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961, two years after a communist revolution led by Fidel Castro took power in the island nation.
Obama and Raul Castro met for the first time in April at a regional summit in Panama, and some restrictions between the two countries have since been eased, allowing several US companies to open operations in Cuba.
But in his letter, Castro made clear that lifting the economic embargo is "essential to normalize relations". The embargo can only be repealed by the U.S. Congress, where a majority of lawmakers is opposed to its removal.
ABOUT THE SOURCE: Granma is the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, owned by the government. It was created in 1965 and is published in Havana.