US, Cuba re-establish direct phone link

AFP , Wednesday 11 Mar 2015

The United States and Cuba have re-established a direct telephone link, the Cuban state telecommunications company said Wednesday, in the latest step toward normalizing ties between the one-time Cold War foes.

"A direct interconnection has been established between the United States and Cuba, initially for international voice calls," the company, Etecsa, said in a statement carried by the Cuban media.

The telephone link between the two countries have been interrupted and restored numerous times since the 1960s, but this is the first time the connection has been resumed since 1999.

Previously phone calls between the US and Cuba had to pass through a third country, making them extremely expensive. Etecsa did not immediately announce new rates.

It is the first agreement signed between Cuban and American companies since the announcement last December that they would renew diplomatic ties after more than 50 years of hostility.

"The reestablishment of direct communications between the United States and Cuba contributes to providing better infrastructure and better communications quality between the people of our two countries," Etecsa said.

The connection was set up through a February deal signed with US firm Domestic Telecom, but could be used for other kinds of communications as well, Etecsa said.

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