US, Cuba restore full diplomatic relations after five decades – July 20, 2015 12:15AM ET

The US and Cuba on Monday re-established embassies in each other’s capitals in a new era of post-Cold War relationsScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at Jul 20, 2015 1.18

The United States and Cuba formally restored diplomatic ties severed more than 50 years ago on Monday, by re-establishing embassies in each other’s capitals and ushering in a new era of post-Cold War relations.

Just past the stroke of midnight, the two countries reached a new milestone in the historic thaw that began with a breakthrough announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on Dec. 17.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Monday morning will preside over the raising of the Cuban flag for the first time in 54 years over a mansion that will again serve as Havana’s embassy in Washington.

The symbolic event will be followed by a meeting at the State Department between Secretary of State John Kerry and Rodriguez, the first Cuban foreign minister on an official visit to Washington since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

While the Cubans hold their ceremony, the U.S. Embassy in Havana will also reopen. But no American flag will fly there until a visit by Kerry, which is expected next month. “We wanted the secretary to be there to oversee these important events,” a State Department official said.

Differences remain and efforts toward full normalization between the United States and Cuba are expected to proceed slowly. Monday’s steps culminated more than two years of negotiations between governments that had long shunned each other.

More than 500 people, including members of Congress, are expected to attend the Cuban festivities in Washington. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson is scheduled to lead the U.S. delegation.

Kerry and Rodriguez last met in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where Obama and Castro also held talks. Aides see the outreach to Cuba as a boost to Obama’s legacy.

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