US-Cuba breakthrough took route through Canada to Vatican

A man holds a Cuban flag in Little Havana as people absorb the news that US President Barack Obama wants to change US-Cuba policy, on December 17, 2014 in MiamiThe US-Cuba normalization process began in secret in spring 2013 in Canada and accelerated after the personal intervention of Pope Francis, culminating in Wednesday’s historic announcement. US President Barack Obama authorized his administration to launch exploratory discussions with Cuban officials last year — but wanted the talks conducted north of the US border, crucially away from the prying eyes of Washington’s press corps. By June 2013, the first face-to-face talks on normalizing US relations with the communist-ruled island were held in Canada, followed by a “series of discussions” between that time and last month, according to a senior US administration official. During some 18 months of back-and-forth, the two sides took advantage of “multiple” avenues of communication, the US official said, including through the US interests section in Havana, Cuba’s interests section in Washington, and their United Nations missions.

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