Regular flights between US and Cuba to be resumed

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us-cuba-flights.jpgThe United States announced Thursday the resumption of regular flights to and from Cuba, the latest step in a historic thaw in relations.

"On December 16, the United States and Cuba reached a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries," the State Department said in a statement.

The announcement came a year to the day after presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations after a half century of enmity rooted in the Cold War. The countries actually did so in July and have opened embassies in each other's capitals.

The aviation accord reached Wednesday brought the countries yet a bit closer to each other as they move to eliminate restrictions on trade and travel and treat each other like countries without a historic gripe.

But for now the US trade embargo on Cuba remains in place. So does a ban on Americans traveling to Cuba for the purpose of tourism, the State Department recalled in Thursday's statement.

Still, "a stronger civil aviation relationship will facilitate growth in authorized travel between our two countries," the statement said.