CNN Report on Obama / Raul Simultaneous Announcement of Resumption of Diplomatic Relations
"Historic thaw in U.S., Cuba standoff
By Alexandra Jaffe and Elise Labott, CNN
updated 4:31 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Washington (CNN) -- A political standoff that spanned five decades and 10 presidents began to crumble Wednesday with President Barack Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba.
The announcement was the product of a year of clandestine back-channelling between the U.S. and Cuba, facilitated by the Canadians and the Vatican and with personal involvement from the Pope.
"Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past, so as to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world," Obama said in a statement announcing his decision.
He added: "It's time for a new approach."
Obama said he's instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, and that the U.S. will re-open an embassy in Havana. The administration will also allow some travel and trade that had been banned under a decades-long embargo instated during the Kennedy administration.
"Neither the American nor Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that's rooted in events that took place before most of us were born," Obama said."