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US, Cuba to Restore Direct Postal Service


FILE - The United States and Cuba will re-establish direct postal service after five decades without.

FILE - The United States and Cuba will re-establish direct postal service after five decades without.

The United States and Cuba say they have agreed to re-establish direct postal service, which was cut more than five decades ago at the height of the Cold War.

The two countries announced Friday that they would launch a pilot program in the coming weeks to test the direct service. They did not give a date for when service would be permanently restored.

The announcement comes nearly a year after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that the two countries would renew diplomatic relations after more than a half century.

Earlier this year, embassies in Havana and Washington re-opened and Obama publicly urged Congress to lift the 56-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

A picture of former Cuban President Fidel Castro is seen inside a post office in Havana, Dec. 11, 2015.

A picture of former Cuban President Fidel Castro is seen inside a post office in Havana, Dec. 11, 2015.

So far, lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Congress have taken no major steps toward that end, leaving the president to say in September that his administration will look "step by step" for opportunities to ease the effects of the embargo while it remains in place.

In the past year, the United States has also removed Cuba from the U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism and eased some travel restrictions to the communist country.

Castro said earlier this year that restoring full U.S.-Cuban relations can only take place after Washington lifts the trade embargo. He has also said Washington must hand back sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay, where the United States maintains a naval base.

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