This is an historic diplomatic breakthrough, or so it would seem:
American officials say the U.S. and Cuba will start talks to normalize full diplomatic relations as part of the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades.
Officials say the U.S. is also looking to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months. The moves are part of an agreement between the U.S. and Cuba that also includes the release of American Alan Gross and three Cubans jailed in Florida for spying.
This is happening:
Sources tell me the U.S. and Cuba will soon be establishing full diplomatic relations.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) December 17, 2014
No doubt this is some kind of quid pro quo agreement:
From @MajorCBS: US Officials confirm US release of 3 Cuban intelligence officers but deny it's a spy swap because Alan Gross not a spy.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) December 17, 2014
Sit tight for updates.
UPDATE: President Obama is going to make the announcement official at 12:00 EST. We will cover his remarks.
UPDATE: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) weighs in:
UPDATE: Very interesting:
Senior Admin official says change in #Cuba policy comes in part as a result of complaints from other countries in hemisphere.— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) December 17, 2014
UPDATE: At least one Democratic Senator is not happy about the news:
Wow. Outgoing Dem SFRC Chair Menendez: "Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent...."— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) December 17, 2014
Sen. Menendez: "President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government."— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) December 17, 2014
Menendez: "Let's be clear: This was not a 'humanitarian' act by the Castro regime/It was a swap of convicted spies for an innocent American"— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP) December 17, 2014
UPDATE: This is what "full diplomatic relations" looks like:
U.S., Cuba to open embassies in Washington and Havana, currently have interest sections, per senior administration official— Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) December 17, 2014
UPDATE: I might end my post on this note -- but we'll see:
Bottom line: Cuban regime never moved an inch toward democracy/free expression. Got normalized relations w/US Huge, historic Castro win— Charles Lane (@ChuckLane1) December 17, 2014
UPDATE: I spoke too soon. This is worth noting:
Embargo still in place, must be lifted by congress, per senior admin official. Travel ban remains. But more Americans will be able to go.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 17, 2014
UPDATE: As is this:
WASHINGTON (@AP) - US official: Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro spoke Tuesday about normalizing relations.— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) December 17, 2014
Negoations between US and Cuba were hosted by Canada and by the Vatican. The Pope urged Obama and Castro to pursue closer relations.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) December 17, 2014
UPDATE: He's returned safely.