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  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro | Photo: Reuters

The U.S. blockade on Cuba still has not been lifted after more than half a century and can only be overturned by the U.S. Congress.

Cuba and the United States agreed on Monday to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as they rush to conclude deals before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

U.S. Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, upon signing the agreement, said it was one of a series of deals to protect the shared marine environment of the two neighboring countries separated by just 90 miles (145 km) of water.

Trump has threatened to scrap a still-fragile detente between the two countries unless Cuba makes further political and economic concessions.

U.S. companies and the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama have announced a flurry of small deals in recent weeks aimed at making it harder for Trump to ditch the detente established by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in 2014.

The former Cold War foes said last month that they hoped to sign as many as six cooperation accords before Jan. 20, when President Barack Obama leaves office.

The oil spill pact, also signed by Cuban Deputy Transportation Minister Eduardo Rodriguez Davila, calls for the parties to prepare joint disaster plans, test them and train personnel, among other measures.

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