US and Cuba are to start talks to normalise diplomatic ties in a historic shift in relations between the two countries, media reports say.

American officials have told US media the US is looking to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months.

The moves are part of a deal that saw the release of American Alan Gross by Cuba and includes the release of three Cubans jailed in Florida for spying.

US President Barack Obama is making a statement later.

Mr Gross, 65, has spent five years behind bars after being accused of subversion, for trying to bring internet services to communities in Cuba.

He earlier left Cuba on a US government plane and was freed on humanitarian grounds.

His arrest and imprisonment had undermined attempts to thaw diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The three Cubans released in the US are part of the so-called Cuban Five convicted of spying.

Prosecutors said the five had sought to infiltrate US military bases and spied on Cuban exiles in Florida.

Two were recently allowed to return to Cuba after finishing their sentences.

Key dates

2001: Five Cubans, dubbed the Cuban Five, are convicted in Miami and given long sentences for spying for the Cuban government. Their case becomes a rallying cry for the Havana government

2008: Raul Castro officially takes over as Cuban president. Washington calls for free and fair elections, and says its trade embargo will remain

Dec 2009: US citizen Alan Gross detained in Cuba accused of spying for Washington

Oct 2011: One of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez, is freed as scheduled from a Florida jail

Dec 2013: US President Barack Obama and Raul Castro shake hands at Nelson Mandela’s funeral – the first such public gesture since the 1959 revolution

Feb 2014: The second of the Cuban Five, Fernando Gonzalez, is freed after completing his sentence

17 December 2014: Alan Gross is released by Cuba after five years in captivity

via BBC News – US and Cuba ‘seek to normalise ties’.

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