Cuba announces new ambassador to US

Cuba has appointed an ambassador to the US – the first since 1961 – as part of the ongoing thaw in relations between the two countries.

Jose Cabanas is a veteran diplomat who has run Cuba’s “interests section” in Washington since 2012.

He was received at the White House with 15 other new diplomats from other countries.

Washington has yet to make an announcement about who will serve as its new ambassador in Havana.

The announcement comes ahead of a visit to Cuba by Pope Francis and days before Cuban President Raul Castro goes to New York to address the United Nations.

His visit will mark the first time a president of Cuba has set foot on American soil since 1995 when President Fidel Castro, his older brother spoke before the UN.

(L-R) Alegandro Garcia, Lianys Torres, Jose Cabanas, head of the Cuban delegation Josefina Vidal and Abel Gonzalez wait to meet with US officials at the US State Department February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. The group met for a second round of US-Cuba talks in an effort to begin to reestablish relations between the two countrie: Jose Cabanas (C) is a senior Cuban career diplomat and has occupied various high-level posts.

In July Cuba and the United States formally re-established their relations.

The process began publicly when President Obama and President Castro announced simultaneously that they planned to set a new course on US-Cuba relations.

Soon after, the US traded three Cubans they had convicted on spying charges for Alan Gross, an American aid worker accused of espionage by a Cuban court.

Since then US and Cuban delegations have met several times to discuss a range of issues.

Mr Cabanas is a career diplomat trained in Havana. He served as vice minister of foreign relations and has occupied various high level posts in several countries.

BBC News