US, Cuba set to reboot relations over 5 decades after split

Updated: 2015-07-20 09:24


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US, Cuba set to reboot relations over 5 decades after split

A worker removes Cuban Interests Section sign in Washington, just days prior to the building being accredited as the Cuban Embassy, July 15, 2015. [Photo/IC]

HAVANA - Cuba's blue, red and white-starred flag is set to fly outside the country's diplomatic mission in the United States for the first time since the countries severed ties in 1961.

While no formal ceremony is planned Monday for the US Interests Section in Havana, it too will become a full-fledged embassy just after midnight.

"It's a historic moment," said longtime Cuban diplomat and analyst Carlos Alzugaray.

"The significance of opening the embassies is that trust and respect that you can see, both sides treating the other with trust and respect," Alzugaray added. "That doesn't mean there aren't going to be conflicts - there are bound to be conflicts - but the way that you treat the conflict has completely changed."

Cuba plans a solemn morning ceremony at its stately mission in Washington with some 500 guests, including a 30-member delegation of diplomatic, cultural and other leaders from the Caribbean nation, headed by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The US government will be represented by Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, who led US negotiators in six months of talks leading to the July 1 announcement that embassies would reopen, and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the US Interests Section chief in Havana who will now become charge d'affaires.

Rodriguez is scheduled to meet later in the day with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Officials say the US Interests Section in Havana will not immediately raise the stars and stripes, instead waiting for a formal ceremony expected to be presided over by Kerry in August.