More than a half-century of lingering Cold War enmity came to an abrupt but quiet end just after midnight as the United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations. The new era began with little fanfare when an agreement between the two nations to resume normal ties on July 20 came into force and the diplomatic missions of each country were upgraded from interests sections to embassies. The historic shift will be publicly memorialized later today when Cuban officials formally inaugurate their embassy in Washington and Cuba's flag flies for the first time since the countries severed ties in 1961. Secretary of State John Kerry will then meet his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, and address reporters at a joint news conference.
The US Interests Section in Havana plans to announce its upgrade to embassy status in a written statement today, but the Stars and Stripes will not fly at the mission until Kerry visits in August for a ceremonial flag-raising. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington switched its Twitter account to say "embassy," one of a series of similar changes being made to the two countries' social media accounts. Conrad Tribble, deputy chief of mission for the United States in Havana, tweeted: "Just made first phone call to State Dept. Ops Center from United States Embassy Havana ever. It didn't exist in Jan 1961." (Read more Cuba stories.)