US, Cuba continue to normalize relations

16:43 30/09/2016
President Barack Obama on September 27 nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis, top official at the US Embassy in Havana since relations were restored in late 2014, to be the first US ambassador to Cuba in 55 years.

At the ambassador appointment ceremony, President Obama said he was proud to nominate Jeffrey DeLaurentis as the first US Ambassador to Cuba in more than five decades. 

Obama said DeLaurentis has played a vital role in normalizing relations with Cuba in recent years and his nomination is a common-sense step toward a more normal and productive relationship between the US and Cuba.

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle stand with US ambassador to Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis (L), as they meet with embassy staff in a hotel in Havana March 20, 2016. Photo: Reuter

The same day Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the government plans to use its executive power to boost trade and cultural activities with Cuba and put pressure on the Republican-controlled senate to ease travel restrictions for Americans to Cuba.

Following the nomination, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a Cuba-US Bilateral Commission will convene on September 30 in Washington to agree further actions for both sides until the end of this year. 

It will be the Commission’s last meeting under the Obama administration. Officials will make a schedule of future meetings, technical discussions, new cooperative agreements, and dialogues on bilateral and multilateral issues. 

Since the historic announcement in December, 2014, to normalize relations, the two countries have resumed diplomatic activities and commercial flights, and started negotiations in various fields. But the US hasn’t yet lifted all of the economic sanctions it has imposed on Cuba over the last 50 years.