Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: US top diplomat visits Cuba to raise flag over embassy

US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Cuba Friday to raise the American flag over the newly reopened US embassy, a symbolic capstone on Washington’s historic rapprochement with Havana. The Stars and Stripes have not flown over the glass-and-concrete building on the Havana waterfront since January 3, 1961, the day the United States severed ties with Cuba at the height of the Cold War. Accompanying Kerry on the whirlwind one-day trip — the first visit to the island by a US secretary of state since 1945 — will be three septuagenarian former Marines who lowered the flag for the last time 54 years ago. “I’m gonna love seeing that flag go back up,” said 78-year-old Jim Tracy in a video posted on the State Department website. The flag-raising ceremony will put a coda on the historic rapprochement announced on December 17 by US President Barack Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, which paved the way for the two countries to reopen their embassies on July 20. Besides the key photo-op with the flag, Kerry will meet with Cuban officials, the head of the Catholic Church in Cuba and dissidents opposed to the communist regime.



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