By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to reestablish direct postal service between the two countries through a pilot program that should begin “in the coming weeks,” the U.S. State Department announced Dec. 11.
The U.S. State Department said the initial plans calls for mail to be flown between the countries “several times a week, rather than routing mail through a third country.”
That’s how mail has traveled between the two countries since 1963, when the United States severed relations with the Communist nation.
Canada, Mexico and Panama have served as conduits for mail between the U.S. and Cuba, according to the Reuters news service.
The mail service announcement was not unexpected.
Cuba and the United States had been conducting talks on mail service and direct commercial airline flights long before President Barack Obama agreed to restore normal relations with the regime of Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014.
Lea Emerson, executive director for international postal affairs at the U.S. Postal Service, and Cuban Ambassador to the United States Jose Ramon Cabanas Rodriguez led talks in Miami that culminated with the joint announcement on postal service between the two countries.
President Obama has called for increased commercial trade with Cuba, but Republicans in Congress have resisted efforts to end the trade embargo that the United States has long has imposed on Cuba.