Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. The US and Cuba have begun historic talks about restoring diplomatic relations
  2. A US embassy in Havana is being planned, among a raft of measures
  3. Cuban leader Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama both made TV addresses
  4. "These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked," said Mr Obama
  5. The move marks a dramatic shift in a relationship that has been strained since the Cold War era
  6. US citizen Alan Gross was released earlier from a Cuban prison, while the US freed three Cubans jailed for spying

Live Reporting

By Tom Geoghegan, Debbie Siegelbaum and Taylor Kate Brown

All times stated are UK

And that rounds off our live coverage of developments. You can stay up to date with the latest on this story

here. Thanks for joining us.

Protests against the thawing relations continued in Miami on Tuesday afternoon.

Cuban Americans protest the prisoner exchange for American contractor Alan Gross in Miami"s Little Havana, USA neighborhood 17 December 2014.
EPA

Suzanne Kianpour

BBC News, Washington

tweets: "This isn't just about US-#Cuba relations. Senior US officials say will be trans-formative in US policy in Latin America overall"

Economic boost

Kim Gittleson

BBC business reporter, New York

"It could signal a shift from money flowing into Cuba's state-run sector and into the hands of private citizens."

Read

Kim's analysis of what this means for US and Cuban economies.

BBC Monitoring

on how Russian state television is reporting the story.

"This news has become a real sensation. The White House regards its policy in relations with the Island of Freedom as a failure. Decades later, the Americans have acknowledged that the Cuban embargo did not correspond to the USA's interests. Although this policy, as the White House says, was pursued for the best of intentions, as always, however, it had no effect."

Rescue mission

Senators Pat Leahy and Jeff Flake, and Congressman Chris Van Hollen flew to Cuba to bring Gross back to the US.

Senators Pat Leahy and Jeff Flake, and Congressman Chris Van Hollen
Getty Images

Missing teeth

The BBC's Suzanne Kianpour was at the Alan Gross press conference earlier in Washington DC.

"The family spokesperson had warned the press about his missing teeth before he walked out - and for a man who'd been held captive for five years, there was a certain youthful candour about his concern for his appearance. He urged the press to give him time and privacy to 'get his teeth fixed' before any interviews - punctuating his request with 'claro?' - in a surprisingly authentic Cuban accent."

Jeb Bush, who was Florida governor and is considering running for president,

told USA Today: "I don't think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime".

In this Nov. 20, 2014, file photo, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gives the keynote address at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington.
AP

More details have been emerging about the second person released by Cuba as part of the deal. He was a Cuban male who gave crucial intelligence to the US - and paid the price.

"This man, whose sacrifices were known only to a few, has spent nearly 20 years in a Cuban prison," the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement.

There's a

profile of this unnamed detainee here.

Mood in Miami

Liliet Heredero, BBC Mundo, Miami

"This will have a huge impact on Cuba but it will prove controversial and won't be easy to implement."

You can watch

Liliet's interview in which she talks about the mood in Miami.

A New York Times

editorial describes this as "a bold move that ends one of the most misguided chapters in American foreign policy".

Suzanne Kianpour

BBC News, Washington

tweets: "Senior admin officials: 'if there's any US foreign policy that's passed it's expiration date, it's US-#Cuba policy'"

Anti-Castro activists in Miami made their feelings heard in protests denouncing the Cuban leader.

Miami protests
Reuters

Ignacio de los Reyes

BBC Mundo, Buenos Aires

Argentine media highlighted the intermediation of Pope Francis in the dialogue between Cuba and the United States, as noted by Obama himself.

The Pope is trending on social networks such as Twitter in this part of the world. Francis was already a highly rated leader in Argentina. His role in these negotiations secure a further boost in his popularity.

Kim Gittleson

BBC business reporter, New York

tweets: "Spoke w/ cigar seller in FL, he told me he's sending celebratory boxes to both Castro & Obama 'for a job well done'"

Daniel Pardo, BBC Mundo, Caracas

The announcement had great impact in Venezuela, where all news related to Cuba is widely covered. It happened just a week after the US issued sanctions against Venezuelan officials, which were strongly condemned by President Nicolas Maduro.

On Monday, he led a protest against the US but on Wednesday, Maduro celebrated the release of three Cubans detained in the US.

"We have to acknowledge that this is a courageous move from president Obama", he said during a Mercosur meeting he was attending in Buenos Aires.

Earlier, Alan Gross made jokes with reporters about his teeth, but his confinement had clearly taken its toll.

Alan Gross
AFP

Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News

continues....

Cuba has stopped exporting revolution to Latin America. In fact, it's mediating the most successful attempt so far to achieve peace between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, making its inclusion on the US list of states that sponsor terrorism look increasingly out-dated.

Latin American countries think so: they've reintegrated Cuba into regional bodies by inviting it to the Summit of the Americas in April. President Obama is also expected to attend, which perhaps helped focus his mind as he ponders how to shape his legacy during his remaining two years in office.

Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News

The release of Alan Gross was essential to any diplomatic breakthrough between the United States and Cuba, but internal political changes in both countries had already created a climate where detente was conceivable.

In the US, demographic shifts in Miami have softened the political influence of the anti-Castro exiles: younger Cuban Americans and recent immigrants are more open to engagement. In Cuba, limited economic reforms carried out by Raul Castro have begun to relax the tight grip of the state, and pique the interest of American business.

ABC's political director Rick Klein

tweets about the pro-baseball league's reaction to the news: "MLB is watching... 'will keep our Clubs informed if this different direction may impact the manner in which they conduct business' in Cuba".

US President Barack Obama telephoned Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday, speaking for nearly an hour.

US President Barack Obama talks with President Raul Castro of Cuba from the Oval Office in Washington DC on 16 December 2014
Getty Images

He watched Mr Obama's speech alongside Secretary of State John Kerry and said he was excited by the changes outlined. "It's good to be home," he added, as he finished his short speech.

In no way are the people of Cuba responsible for his "ordeal". It pains me to see them hurt by "mutually belligerent policies", says Mr Gross.

Mr Gross is speaking to reporters just an hour or so after an emotional return to US soil.

Alan Gross
Reuters

"In my last letter to President Obama, I said despite my five years of captivity I said I would not want to trade places with him."

"It was crucial to know I was not forgotten," he adds.

"To all of those who tried to visit me, but could not, thank you for trying," Mr Gross says.

Mr Gross thanks President Obama, his wife and his lawyer for his release.

"This is great" Alan Gross says as he walks into a room full of reporters. "Today is the first day of Hanukkah and this the best Hanukkah I will celebrate in a while."

Alan Gross, the key to all the dramatic developments today, is about to speak now.

Gloria Borger, CNN's chief political analyst, has just popped up on air and warns that Obama still needs Congress approval for funds and that's not guaranteed.

Paul Adams

BBC News

@BBCPaulAdams

tweets: US public opinion ready for change in Cuba policy. Including Florida. Worth reading
Atlantic Council

David Botti

BBC News

Datapic
BBC

Kim Gittleson

BBC business reporter, New York

One big winner in this could be US farming. Under relaxed restrictions put in place under President Bill Clinton but that effectively happened under George W Bush, US agribusinesses were allowed to export to Cuba. From 2000 to 2013, those exports were an estimated $4.7bn (£3bn). Since Cuba imports an estimated 80% of its food, the loosening of restrictions could help those firms - in addition to firms like Cargill which could be able to export agricultural equipment to the country.

Earlier, Havana residents watched history unfold as Cuban President Raul Castro told the nation about a new era.

Cuba"s President Raul Castro speaks during a television broadcast in Havana December 17, 2014.
Reuters

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham

tweets: "I will do all in my power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba. Normalising relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time."

US President Barack Obama has also instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to review Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. The country was placed on the ignominious list in 1982.

#BBCtrending looks at what Cuban twitter users were saying

in the wake of the announcement.

trends map
Trendsmap.com

Paul Adams

BBC News

tweets: "US glad to get back Alan Gross. But 'one of the most important intelligence agents that US has ever had in Cuba' surely a bigger prize?"