Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cuba next month to attend a flag-raising ceremony at the reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez traveled to Washington, D.C. Monday to watch his country’s flag be raised at Cuba’s embassy in the U.S. capital.
Slated for August 14, Kerry’s visit to Cuba will be the first by a sitting U.S. secretary of state since 1945, CNN reported. Government officials first reported the scheduled trip’s date Monday morning, with the event later confirmed on Kerry’s official Twitter account.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 20, 2015
Kerry met with Rodriguez Monday after the flag-raising ceremony at the Cuban Embassy. It was the first time a Cuban diplomat had visited Washington, D.C. since 1958, Agence France-Presse reported. The two exchanged a handshake and posed for photos together.
The United States and Cuba formally restored diplomatic relations at midnight Monday for the first time since 1961, when then-President Dwight Eisenhower ordered an end to diplomatic communication after Fidel Castro took power in a revolution. The two nations remained political adversaries throughout the Cold War due to Cuba’s close association with the Soviet Union.
However, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban government leaders announced plans to normalize diplomacy last December, after a year and a half of negotiations. Earlier this month, Obama formally announced that U.S. and Cuban officials have reached terms to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies.
“When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don’t think anyone expected it would be more than half a century before it reopened...This is not merely symbolic. With this change, we will be able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people,” Obama said at the time. The U.S. government has yet to determine if it will lift its long-standing economic embargo against Cuba. President Obama lobbied Congress to end the embargo during his July 1 speech.