U.S.-Cuba deal to restore ties to be unveiled on Wednesday

AP Source: US, Cuba to Announce Embassy Openings Wednesday

The United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic ties severed more than five decades ago, and the historic deal will be unveiled on Wednesday, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Nearly 6-1/2 months after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sealed a diplomatic breakthrough, Obama will announce the new steps toward rapprochement in the White House Rose Garden at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) Wednesday.

Signaling it is likely to act in sync with the United States, Cuba's Communist government said the chief of the U.S. mission, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, would meet the interim foreign minister in Havana on Wednesday to deliver a note from Obama to Castro on the re-establishment of ties between the two former Cold War rivals.

Obama and Castro met in Panama in April.

See photos from Obama and Castro's meeting:

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U.S.-Cuba deal to restore ties to be unveiled on Wednesday
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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Both countries can now upgrade their so-called interests sections in Havana and Washington into full-blown embassies, with ambassadors to be appointed later. The State Department must give Congress a 15-day notice before opening an embassy.

"We will formally announce tomorrow that the United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and open embassies in each other's capitals," a senior U.S. official said.

Restoration of ties would be the latest phase in a normalization process that is expected to move slowly because of lingering problems over issues such as Cuba's human rights record, as well as Havana's desire to keep a tight rein on Cuba's society and its state-run economy.

A U.S. economic embargo against Cuba will remain in place, and only Congress can lift it.

U.S. officials say there is little, if any, chance that hardline anti-Castro lawmakers in Congress would be able to block the restoration of ties or reopening of embassies.

But Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican Cuban-American congresswoman from south Florida, said in a statement: "Opening the American Embassy in Cuba will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping."

OUTCOME OF TOUGH NEGOTIATIONS

The United States and Cuba began secret negotiations on restoring ties in mid-2013, leading to the landmark announcement on Dec. 17, 2014, when Obama and Castro said separately that they had swapped prisoners and would seek to normalize relations.

That led to a series of meetings in Havana and Washington about restoring ties.

Cuba was formally removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in late May, a critical step toward rapprochement 54 years after Washington cut off relations at the height of the Cold War and imposed the embargo.

Obstacles to normalization have included U.S. demands for relative freedom of movement for their diplomats on the island, comparable to that in China, Russia and Vietnam, while the Cubans had objected to U.S. training courses in journalism and information technology given at the U.S. interests section in Havana.

There were no immediate details on other outstanding differences between the countries, but Wednesday's announcement was a clear sign that major stumbling blocks had been removed.

PHOTOS: The beauty of Old Havana, Cuba:

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