What do embassies have to do with diplomacy?

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What Do Embassies Have to Do With Diplomacy?

"Going forward, the United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana," President Obama said.

Two weeks after the U.S. removed Cuba from the state-sponsored terrorism list, a flagpole was put up in front of the Cuban Interests Section — which will probably be upgraded to the Cuban Embassy — in Washington, D.C.

The State Department defines an embassy as "the nerve center for a country's diplomatic affairs within the borders of another nation." Installing a flagpole and raising a flag is symbolic because it says, "Hey, we kind of like you! Glad we could work things out."

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What do embassies have to do with diplomacy?
The Cuban flag is raised over their new embassy in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. Cuba's blue, red and white-starred flag was hoisted Monday at the country's embassy in Washington in a symbolic move signaling the start of a new post-Cold War era in U.S.-Cuba relations. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, center, raises the Cuban flag over their new embassy in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. The United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations Monday after more than five decades of frosty relations rooted in the Cold War. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
A member of a Cuban honor guard salutes as Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, center, prepares to raise the Cuban flag over their new embassy in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. Cuba's blue, red and white-starred flag was hoisted Monday at the country's embassy in Washington in a symbolic move signaling the start of a new post-Cold War era in U.S.-Cuba relations. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Workers at the US Department of State add the Cuban flag at to the display of flags inside the main entrance at 202 'C' Street at 4am local time (0800 GMT) in Washington, DC on July 20, 2015. The United States and Cuba formally resumed diplomatic relations on July 20, as the Cuban flag was raised at the US State Department in a historic gesture toward ending decades of hostility between the Cold War foes. AFP PHOTO / Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
The last Cuban flag that was lowered from the Cuban Embassy in Washington on January 3, 1961 when relations between the United States and Cuba were severed, hangs in their new embassy in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. The United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations Monday after more than five decades of frosty relations rooted in the Cold War. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
A Cuban flag flies among empty flag polls near the U.S. Interests Section building, behind, in Havana, Sunday, July 19, 2015. Washington and Havana plan to officially restore diplomatic relations on Monday with the reopening of their embassies. While no formal ceremony is planned Monday for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, it too will become a full-fledged embassy just after midnight as the Cold War foes formally enter a new era of engagement. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A workman at the US Department of State add the Cuban flag at to the display of flags inside the main entrance at 202 'C' Street at 4am local time (0800 GMT) in Washington, DC on July 20, 2015. The United States and Cuba formally resumed diplomatic relations on July 20, as the Cuban flag was raised at the US State Department in a historic gesture toward ending decades of hostility between the Cold War foes. AFP PHOTO / Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Edwardo Clark, a Cuban-American, holds an American flag and a Cuban flag as he celebrates outside the new Cuban embassy in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. The United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations Monday after more than five decades of frosty relations rooted in the Cold War. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The last Cuban flag that was lowered from the Cuban Embassy in Washington on January 3, 1961 when relations between the United States and Cuba were severed, hangs in their new embassy in Washington, Monday, July 20, 2015. The United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations Monday after more than five decades of frosty relations rooted in the Cold War. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
A man waves the US and Cuban flags as he walks in front of the new Cuban Embassy shortly before it's official ceremonial opening July 20, 2015, in Washington, DC. The United States and Cuba formally resumed diplomatic relations on July 20, as the Cuban flag was raised at the US State Department in a historic gesture toward ending decades of hostility between the Cold War foes. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama(R) speaks along side Vice President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama announced plans to reopen the US Embassy in Havana in an effort to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cold War enemy Cuba. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Joe R. Biden listens while US President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House July 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama announced plans to reopen the US Embassy in Havana in an effort to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cold War enemy Cuba. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama with Cuban President Raul Castro during their meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. The leaders of the United States and Cuba held their first formal meeting in more than half a century on Saturday, clearing the way for a normalization of relations that had seemed unthinkable to both Cubans and Americans for generations. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) speaks with US President Barack Obama (R) on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas at the ATLAPA Convention center on April 11, 2015 in Panama City. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas at the ATLAPA Convention center on April 11, 2015 in Panama City. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro during a meeting on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas at the ATLAPA Convention center on April 11, 2015 in Panama City. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama, right, speaks as he joins other world leaders for the opening plenary of the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. Listening to Obama's remarks is Cuban President Raul Castro, center, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, left. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Cuba's President Raul Castro, right, shakes hands with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, center, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, looks on during the official group photo of the Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. In a speech to world leaders at the opening plenary session, Castro absolved President Barack Obama of fault for the U.S. blockade in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the United States and Cuba. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) gestures as he speaks with US President Barack Obama (R) on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas at the ATLAPA Convention center on April 11, 2015 in Panama City. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. The leaders of the United States and Cuba held their first formal meeting in more than half a century on Saturday, clearing the way for a normalization of relations that had seemed unthinkable to both Cubans and Americans for generations. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Cuba's President Raul Castro cups his ears to better hear a question shouted out at him during the official group photo of the VII Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. In a speech to world leaders at the opening plenary session, Castro absolved President Barack Obama of fault for the U.S. blockade in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the United States and Cuba. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
US President Barack Obama speaks at a civil society forum in the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, at a hotel in Panama City on April 10, 2015. Obama told a forum of Latin American civil society members in Panama on Friday that the days of American meddling in the region were over. 'The days in which our agenda in this hemisphere so often presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity -- those days are passed,' Obama said hours before the start of the 35-nation Summit of the Americas, where he is coming face-to-face with Cuban leader Raul Castro amid their diplomatic thaw. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right middle row, and Cuban President Raul Castro, left middle row, and other world Leaders participates in the inauguration ceremony of the Summit of the Americas arrival ceremony in Panama City, Panama, Friday, April 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Cuba's President Raul Castro talks at reporters before turning to leave the staging area of the official group photo of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. Castro is flanked by his personal assistant and grandson, Raul Guillermo Rodriguez Castro, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, and Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves. Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama held their first formal meeting in more than half a century on Saturday, clearing the way for a normalization of relations. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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Embassies in Havana, Cuba and Washington, D.C. open up the lines of communication — essential for any relationship. They allow ambassadors and staff to closely work with the host country's government, report on issues dealing with bilateral relations and assist their country's respective citizens living within either Cuba or the U.S.

Embassies are also recognized as sovereign states set up in a host country's capital city. Perfect for, let's say, evading authorities. International rules say a host country can't enter another country's embassy without permission — even if there's a fire or a whistleblower.

Aside from the flags and international men of mystery, embassies are a kind of brick and mortar olive branch. The U.S. and Cuba could have both of their embassies up and running by the end of July.


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