HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba & the United States have agreed to restore direct postal service after a half-century rupture in one of the first bilateral deals since the former Cold War foes re-established diplomatic ties in July.
The announcement on Friday comes ahead of the first anniversary of the Dec. 17 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama & Cuban President Raul Castro that they would seek to normalize relations.
"Both parties agreed to re-establish direct postal service between the two countries through the implementation of a pilot program that will commence in the coming weeks, with permanent service foreseen in the future," Cuba's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Direct mail talks had been underway even before detente, one of a number of areas of bilateral cooperation including drug interdiction, immigration & environmental protection.
Those matters were put on hold as the two sides worked on restoring diplomatic relations & opening embassies, which they achieved in July. Since then they have re-engaged on a variety of issues.
Most commercial ties remain severed, however, as a result of the U.S. economic embargo. Obama has asked Congress to lift the embargo yet the Republican majority has resisted.
Direct mail service between the United States & Cuba has been suspended since 1963. Despite the ban, letters & other mail still flowed between the United States & the island nation 90 miles (144.84 km) away through other countries, such as Canada, Mexico & Panama.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Tom Brown)