New chapter in U. S.-Cuba relations

(AGI) Havana, Dec 17 - Relations between the U.S. and Cuba havetaken a positive turn, 55 years after Fidel Castro'srevolution. The 'normalisation' of relations began with aprisoner exchange, to be followed by the reopening ofdiplomatic missions, easing the trade embargo and removingtravel restrictions. The situation was also achieved thanks toVatican involvement, which, according to Senator RichardDurbin, played a significant role in the year-longnegotiations. U.S. President Barack Obama hailed a new chapterin relations between Washington and Havana, saying he was readyto move on and take further steps. Fifty years of Cold

(AGI) Havana, Dec 17 - Relations between the U.S. and Cuba havetaken a positive turn, 55 years after Fidel Castro'srevolution. The 'normalisation' of relations began with aprisoner exchange, to be followed by the reopening ofdiplomatic missions, easing the trade embargo and removingtravel restrictions. The situation was also achieved thanks toVatican involvement, which, according to Senator RichardDurbin, played a significant role in the year-longnegotiations. U.S. President Barack Obama hailed a new chapterin relations between Washington and Havana, saying he was readyto move on and take further steps. Fifty years of Cold War hadled to nothing and it was time for a new approach. He alsothanked Pope Francis, as an example of how the world should be,referring to the talks on prisoner release brokered by theVatican. "Todos somos americanos", concluded Mr Obama. PopeFrancis has expressed pleasure at the historic decision by thegovernments of the United States of America and Cuba toestablish diplomatic relations in a bid to overcome thedifficulties that have marked their recent history, in theinterests of their respective citizens. Vatican spokesman FrFederico Lombardi has confirmed that the Holy Father wrote toCuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obamaover the last few months, urging them to resolve commonproblems of a humanitarian nature, including the release ofseveral prisoners, in an endeavour to launch a new stage inrelations. In October, the Vatican offered its offices todelegations from both countries, brokering constructivedialogue on delicate issues, which led to satisfactorysolutions for both sides. The Holy See would continue tosupport the initiatives the two countries would take to bolsterbilateral relations and improve the wellbeing of theircitizens. (AGI).