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  • Ban has praised Cuba and the United States for planning to reopen embassies in each other

    Ban has praised Cuba and the United States for planning to reopen embassies in each other's capitals. | Photo: Reuters

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon says an exchange of embassies between Cuba and the United States is a major advance towards the normalization of relations.

Cuba and the United States have taken a historic step that could benefit the people of both countries, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

“The restoration of diplomatic ties is an important step on the path toward the normalization of relations,” Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier in the day the two countries announced they would reopen embassies in each other's capitals for the first time in nearly half a century.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. president Barack Obama told press during a speech, “This summer Secretary (John) Kerry will travel to Havana to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more. This is not merely symbolic ... we’ll have more diplomats, who will be able to engage more broadly with the country.”

Ban's spokesperson said he “hopes that this historic step will benefit the peoples of both countries.”

“In keeping with the principles of its founding charter, the United Nations supports efforts to promote harmonious and good neighborly relations among states,” he added.

The move has already been hailed as a step towards an eventual end of the U.S. blockade of Cuba. The U.N. has long condemned the blockade, with the General Assembly passing 23 resolutions demanding the U.S. end the blockade since 1992. In the last such resolution, 188 of 193 U.N. member states voted to oppose the blockade, with just Israel and the United States voting for it (three nations, Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained).

The Cuban government has estimated the blockade has caused over US$1 trillion in economic damage to the island nation.

RELATED: Obama, When It Comes to Cuba, Yes You Can!


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