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US authorizes ferry service to Cuba

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-06 10:36

US authorizes ferry service to Cuba

The Cuban flag flies in Havana, April 14, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - At least two companies in Florida have been licensed to operate ferries between the US state and Cuba, as Washington-Havana relations are thawing toward normalcy, local reports said on Tuesday.

Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale and Baja Ferries USA have won approval for operating the ferries, a service suspended more than 50 years ago when Washington imposed an embargo on Cuba, The Sun Sentinel daily reported.

The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control issued formal guidance on Tuesday on who and what could be transported between the United States and Cuba via the ferry service.

The licensed ferries can carry authorized US travelers to Cuba including people in 12 categories who no longer need a license in advance to visit, since US President Barack Obama eased restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba this year, The Sun Sentinel said.

Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro agreed in December last year to normalize bilateral relations, and Obama's suggested removal last month of Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism is believed to expedite the process.

Americans are still not allowed to travel to Cuba for tourism as the embargo remains in place, but 12 categories of persons, including those on family visits, educational activities and official business of the US government, have been exempt from the ban since January this year.

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