WASHINGTON (AP) â" The United States and Cuba have agreed to open embassies in their capital cities, a major step in restoring ties after more than 50 years of hostilities. The latest developments (all times local):
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is cautiously welcoming word from the Obama administration of plans to open an embassy in Cuba as the White House seeks to normalize ties to the Cold War foe.
"I still distrust Castro, but we have to get that regime to open up, stop human rights abuses, and give the Cuban people their basic freedoms. I think reopening the embassies is a necessary step in the long process toward achieving that goal," Nelson said in a statement.
Secretary of State John Kerry says he'll travel later this summer to Havana to raise the stars-and-stripes over the new U.S. Embassy to Cuba.
Kerry didn't give a precise date for opening the embassy.
But he called Wednesday's announcement of normalized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba "long overdue."
He credited Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro with making a necessary change.
Speaking in Vienna, where he was attending nuclear talks with Iran, Kerry said the former Cold War foes still have sharp differences over democracy, human rights and other matters.
An embassy, he said, will allow the U.S. to engage the Cuban government and people, and help Americans traveling to the island.
Kerry, recovering from a broken leg, spoke from a city square with crutches at his side.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the Obama administration is handing Fidel and Raul Castro "a lifetime dream of legitimacy without getting a thing" for the Cuban people who have been oppressed by a brutal communist dictatorship.
In a statement, the Republican leader maintained that relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom â" "and not one second sooner."
The statement underscores the heavy lift for the administration in persuading Congress to end the embargo or even approve any taxpayer dollars on a U.S. embassy in Havana.
Cuban television is broadcasting President Obama's statement on resuming diplomatic ties.
The transmission is happening live on state television with a translation into Spanish.
It is highly unusual for Cuban TV to carry a U.S. presidential speech, although Havana broadcasters also did so in December when the two countries announced a historic detente.
President Barack Obama says the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington is another demonstration that the U.S. doesn't have to be imprisoned by the past.
Obama is announcing the formal restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. He's calling it an "historic step."
Obama says Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana over the summer to raise the American flag over the embassy.
Obama says the reopening of a full embassy in Havana means American diplomats will be able to engage directly with Cuban government officials, civil society leaders and ordinary Cubans. He's referring to the freedom of movement for U.S. diplomats that had been a sticking point in negotiations to reopen the embassies.
Obama is also calling on Congress to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. He says lawmakers should listen to the Cuban people and the American people who oppose maintaining economic sanctions against the island nation.
The Cuban government says Havana and Washington will restore full diplomatic relations and reopen embassies July 20.
The Foreign Ministry in Havana made the announcement Wednesday morning after receiving a letter from President Barack Obama to Cuban President Raul Castro.
The onetime Cold War foes have not had full diplomatic ties for more than five decades.
The United States' top diplomat in Havana has delivered a letter from the White House to Cuba about restoring embassies in the countries' respective capitals.
U.S. Interests Section chief Jeffrey DeLaurentis arrived at the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana on Wednesday morning to hand-deliver the message.
Photographers and video journalists were allowed to document the encounter, but neither he nor Cuban officials spoke publicly.