UN ready to help US, Cuba develop ties: Ban

AFP| Updated: Dec 18, 2014, 00:06 AM IST

UN chief Ban Ki-moon welcomed on Wednesday a historic decision by the United States and Cuba to normalize ties and offered UN help to develop the new relationship.

"The United Nations stands ready to help both countries to cultivate their good neighborly relations," Ban told a news conference at UN headquarters.

The secretary general thanked presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro "for taking this important step towards normalizing relations" and described this as "very positive news."

Obama announced earlier that the United States will restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after a five-decade freeze and open an embassy in Havana after the release of two Americans.

Ban recalled that the UN General Assembly had adopted again this year a resolution in favor of lifting the US embargo on Cuba and putting the countries on a path toward normalized relations.

The United States imposed an economic embargo on communist Cuba in 1960, at the height of the Cold War, and a year later broke off diplomatic relations.