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Cuba and US agree to resume mail service

The United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish a postal service after more than half a century. Postal ties were interrupted at height of the Cold War, with letters being sent indirectly through other countries.

For the first time in more than 50 years, the United States and Cuba will re-establish a direct postal service, the two countries announced Friday.

Both nations broke off direct postal links in 1963, the year after Washington applied a trade and financial embargo on Havana that exists to this day.

Negotiators from Washington and Havana had reached the agreement on Thursday in Miami. The initial plan is to arrange mail flights several times a week.

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The plan should be "effective within the next few weeks, with the hope of eventually institutionalizing it on a permanent basis in the future," the Cuban embassy in Washington said.

For the last five decades, mail between the US and Cuba has been routed through third countries which usually delays delivery by up to a month.

The move is the latest step in an ongoing

normalization of relations.

Commercial airline service has still not restarted, although members of the Cuban-American community and other US citizens with a special license can travel to Cuba on charter flights. There are dozens of such flights which connect Miami and Havana each week.

The US and Cuba re-opened embassies in July after a 54 years. The re-establishment of ties followed an agreement in December 2014, a result of Vatican-mediated secret talks between Washington and Havana.

The US economic embargo on most trade with Cuba can only be lifted by Congress.

av/rc (AFP, DPA)

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