Washington: In a historic moment, the US on Friday raised its national flag at its new Embassy in Cuba after a gap of over five decades, marking the end of one of the last vestige of the Cold War.
The US and Cuba officially restored their diplomatic ties last month with reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who specially flew for this occasion became the first top American diplomat to visit Cuba after 1945, described as another historic moment.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) stands with other dignitaries during the raising of the US flag over the newly reopened embassy in Havana, Cuba on Friday. Pic/AFP
"This truly is a memorable occasion, a day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities and it is
in that spirit that I say on behalf of my country," Kerry said.
In his remarks, Kerry said despite restoration of diplomatic ties, leaders in Havana and the Cuban people should also know that the US always remain a champion of Democratic principles and reforms.
"Like many other governments in and outside this hemisphere, we will continue to urge the Cuban government to fulfill its obligations under the UN and Inter-American human rights covenants, obligations shared by the United States and every other country in the Americas," he said.
"And indeed, we remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by genuine Democracy, where people are free to choose leaders, express their ideas, practice faith with a commitment to economic and social justice, is realised more fully where institutions are answerable to those they serve, and where civil society is independent and allowed to flourish," Kerry said.
However, the Republicans slammed the Obama Administration for its Cuba policy.
"US policy has changed, but Cuba has not. It remains an unyielding dictatorship, a tragic example of the folly of communism, and an affront to the conscience of the free nations of the Western Hemisphere," said Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate.
If am elected as the president, Bush said he will reverse Obama's strategy of accommodation and appeasement and commit to helping the Cuban people claim their freedom and determine their future, free from tyranny.
"The accommodation of the Castro regime comes at the expense of the freedom and democracy that all Cubans deserve, but Secretary Kerry's visit is especially insulting for Cuba's dissidents," Bush said.
Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described this as a significant milestone in the restoration of the US¿Cuban relationship that is long overdue.
On December 17 last year, Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalising relations between Cuba and the US, which had been severed in 1961 during the Cold War.