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U.S., Cuba to normalize relations; Obama to speak

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 17, 2014 at 8:07 a.m. Updated December 17, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.

in-this-nov-27-2012-file-photo-provided-by-james-l-berenthal-jailed-american-alan-gross-poses-for-a-photo-during-a-visit-by-rabbi-elie-abadie-and-us-lawyer-james-l-berenthal-at-finlay-military-hospital-as-he-serves-a-prison-sentence-in-havana-cuba

In this Nov. 27, 2012, file photo provided by James L. Berenthal, jailed American Alan Gross poses for a photo during a visit by Rabbi Elie Abadie and U.S. lawyer James L. Berenthal at Finlay military hospital as he serves a prison sentence in Havana, Cuba.

WASHINGTON — The United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday.

The announcement came amid a series of sudden confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, as well as a swap for a U.S. intelligence asset held in Cuba and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S. Gross arrived at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington late Wednesday morning.

President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro were to separately address their nations about noon. The two leaders spoke by phone for more than 45 minutes Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.

Wednesday's announcements followed more than a year of secret talks between U.S. and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. U.S. officials said Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.

Read Thursday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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RaylanGivens says... December 17, 2014 at 9:42 a.m.

Did they release Tony Montonya? He's a bad dude

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Popsmith says... December 17, 2014 at 11:59 a.m.

This is long overdue.

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HenryP says... December 17, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.

You can go to Cuba today. Search YMT tours. It will cost you about 2k for a week....

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RaylanGivens says... December 17, 2014 at 12:28 p.m.

Can the Mafia start running casinos in Havana again?

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HotSpringsLawyer says... December 17, 2014 at 12:52 p.m.

Who says the Mafia ever stopped running them? The rest of the world can already go there.

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BEARTRAP919 says... December 17, 2014 at 1:09 p.m.

What Wonderful News, This is Long overdue, America is so fortunate to have an Intelligent Man in the White House. Just think how much better AMERICA and the Rest of the World would be, IF he had some help, and Cooperation from The Publicans.

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RaylanGivens says... December 17, 2014 at 1:45 p.m.

HSL-there are no casinos in Cuba unless they lifted the ban that was enacted in the late 50's.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... December 17, 2014 at 2:13 p.m.

Did he give back Guantánamo Bay?

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ThinkFree says... December 17, 2014 at 2:23 p.m.

A pair of Marxists working together.......heart warming

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HotSpringsLawyer says... December 17, 2014 at 2:23 p.m.

Thanks RDM. So I suppose it remains up to them.

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