After decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba, an American Congressional delegation has arrived in Havana.
The group of four Democratic politicians are scheduled to meet Cuban officials and civilian leaders in their three-day visit to discuss ways to speed up normalization of relations between the two countries.
A historic thaw in Washington-Havana relations was announced on December 17 by President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro.
Earlier this week, Cuba completed the release of 53 political prisoners as part of the deal.
“We have all been to Cuba before, and we strongly support the president’s new direction for our policy towards Cuba,” said Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy who leads the Congressional delegation.
New travel and trade rules came into effect on Friday, easing US embargo against Cuba and loosening restrictions on American trade and investment.
The US trade embargo remains in place, yet restrictions on travel will be eased.
The first high-level talks between Cuba and the US will be held in Havana next Wednesday and Thursday.
Leahy of Vermont is being accompanied by Representatives Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Peter Welch of Vermont.
While Obama is using executive powers to ease some restrictions, only Congress can actually lift the embargo.
The new Republican-led Congress has vowed to do what it can to prevent that from happening.
Washington placed an official embargo against Cuba in 1962. They became ideological foes soon after the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
AN/NT, Press TV
January 18, 2015