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cuba us thaw

Direct communications between the US and Cuba have been re-established for the first time in 15 years, Cuba’s state telecommunications company says.

The company, Etecsa, said initially the link would only be for phone calls.

Telephone calls have until now passed through a third country, making them very expensive.

It is the first agreement signed by the US and Cuba since the announcement last December that the two states would renew diplomatic ties.

Americans and Cubans will now be able to make direct calls to each other’s countries.

“The re-establishment of direct communications between the United States and Cuba contributes to providing better infrastructure and better communications quality between the people and our two countries,” Etecsa said.

Etecsa’s American counterpart, New Jersey based telecommunication firm IDT Domestic Telecom, said: “Ultimately, the agreement will make it easier and more affordable for our customers to call friends and family in Cuba.”Cuba and US restore direct phone link

According to the Miami Herald newspaper, Etecsa and IDT Domestic Telecom were in talks to restart international long-distance traffic between the two countries before the announcement in December.

A US delegation led by Daniel Sepulveda, the State Department Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs co-ordinator for international communications and information policy, will head to Havana later this month to meet their Cuban counterparts.

Cuban officials have said they are ready to work with US telecommunications companies.

“We confirmed we are ready to receive US telecom companies to explore business opportunities – business that could be of benefit to both sides,” Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry official heading the Cuban delegation, said after the first round of US-Cuba talks in January.

Only an estimated 5% to 25% of Cubans have any type of Internet service.

However, since the December announcement, Cuba has temporarily cut the price of state-run Internet cafes from $4.50 an hour to $5 for over two hours.

The government has also said it plans to open more than 100 additional cafes this year.

Last year, Etecsa also launched a mobile email service, Nauta.cu.

In February, Netflix announced that Cubans with high-speed Internet connections and access to international payment methods would be able to subscribe to its popular film and TV show service.

However, few Cubans will be able to afford to access their service at the moment.


Former Cuban President Fidel Castro appears to have given tacit approval to the recent decision by Cuba and the US to restore diplomatic relations.

In a letter, Fidel Castro wrote: “I don’t trust the policy of the US, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a peaceful solution to conflicts.”

These were Fidel Castro’s first comments since December’s historic move by Cuba and the US after decades of hostilities.

High-level talks were held last week.Fidel Castro breaks silence on Cuba-US thaw

In the letter published by the state-run newspaper Granma, Fidel Castro, 88 wrote: “We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries.”

The former leader appeared to be backing decisions taking by his younger brother Raul Castro – the current Cuban president who succeeded him in 2008.

Fidel Castro, the letter stated, “has taken the pertinent steps in accordance with his prerogatives and the powers given to him by the National Assembly the Communist Party of Cuba”.

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