Friends again

WASHINGTON – Cuba and the US have formally restored diplomatic relations after an agreement struck last year putting aside decades of hostility came into force.

Just after midnight local time, the diplomatic missions of each country became full embassies.

The Cuban flag was raised on Monday at the newly opened embassy in Washington.

“Nothing is more futile than trying to live in the past,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We’re taking a historic and long overdue step in the right direction.”

Despite the historic shift, both sides admit to lingering difficulties.

There were still “issues that we don’t see eye to eye on”, a US state department spokesman said.

A flag will not be raised at the US Embassy in Havana until Mr Kerry pays a visit there on August 14.

Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba’s minister of foreign affairs, called for a removal of the 53-year-old US trade embargo and for the US to return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.

“I will welcome Mr Kerry in a few weeks and continue talks,” Mr Rodriguez said.

Outside of the embassy, crowds of people cheered as the Cuban national anthem played and three Cuban soldiers stood at attention while the flag was raised.

Protesters dotted the crowd, and one was removed from the area by police.

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