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US marks first anniversary of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba

Barack Obama and Raul Castro talk at the Summit of the Americas Barack Obama and Raul Castro talk at the Summit of the Americas
WASHINGTON, Jul. 21, CMC – The United States on Wednesday marked the completion of the first year of restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba. “This historic breakthrough has allowed us to more effectively advance US. interests and values with our southern neighbor,” the US Department of State said.

Cuba/USSince the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, the department said the United States and Cuba have expanded cooperation in areas such as the environment, transportation, agriculture, health and law enforcement.

The State Department said numerous high-level US officials have visited Cuba to deepen relations, including President Obama; five cabinet secretaries; Members of Congress; governors; and mayors.

Hundreds of representatives of US civil society, business and religious communities have also visited the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country, the State Department said.

It also noted that hundreds of thousands of Americans are interacting with the Cuban people through educational and cultural exchanges for the first time.

“We have made progress in many areas, but will continue to work through remaining challenges, including human rights, claims, and the return of fugitives,” the statement said.

It said other accomplishments and notable events in the past year include the re-opening of embassies; scheduled air service; regulatory changes; educational, professional and cultural exchange; direct transportation of mail; claims; internet and telecommunications; health cooperation; agriculture; environment; law enforcement cooperation; and maritime navigation.

On July 20, 2015, the United States and Cuba re-opened their respective embassies.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Havana to raise the US flag at the Embassy for the first time since 1961, he said, “President Obama and President Castro made a courageous decision to stop being the prisoners of history and to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow.”

Subsequently, the State Department said the United States and Cuba launched a Bilateral Commission to meet regularly to advance the normalization process.

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