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Cuba signs telecoms deal with US Sprint

In a historic move, US telecommunications giant Sprint has signed a deal with Cuba to provide direct roaming services to foreigners visiting the island nation. The deal comes as the former rivals seek to normalize ties.

"As the commercial relationship between the US and Cuba continues to progress, it is expected that the number of travelers to Cuba will increase exponentially," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement.

US telecommunications giant Sprint Corporation on Monday signed a deal with the Cuban state telecommunications company Etecsa, marking the first time an American company will provide direct roaming mobile service to foreigners visiting the communist country.

"We want to make sure any Sprint customer traveling to Cuba can use their phone the same way as they do in the United States," Claure added.

The deal was signed during Cuba's annual Havana International Fair (FIHAV), which aims to promote the island nation's shifting business climate and seek foreign investment.

Listen to audio 06:04

US - Cuba thawing relations

"We are continuing to create the conditions for separating state and business functions and to improve the role that should be played by socialist state enterprises,…guaranteeing more flexible functioning," said Cuban Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca during FIHAV's opening ceremony, according to Reuters news agency.

Nearly 30 US firms were represented for the first time since the

US and Cuba announced they would seek to normalize relations,

marking a historical rapprochement. However, a Washington-backed

trade embargo remains in effect,

limiting American visitors to certain categories.

"I have a lot of faith that our government will reach an agreement that will allow the free movement of Americans to Cuba," Sprint CEO Claure said while signing the deal.

The deal was made possible through US President Barack Obama's executive order exempting American telecommunications companies from the trade embargo.

ls/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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