Secretary of State John Kerry will attend a flag-raising ceremony at the American Embassy in Cuba on Friday and promote the effort to rebuild ties between the Caribbean island country and the United States after more than half a century of enmity.

The New York Times reports:

Mr. Kerry’s visit — the first by a secretary of state since Edward R. Stettinius Jr. made a short trip to Havana in 1945 — also reflects the balance that the Obama administration is trying to strike between working with an authoritarian government and supporting Cuba’s beleaguered dissidents.

The morning’s highlight will be the carefully choreographed ceremony at the embassy, which was officially opened last month. Richard Blanco, a Cuban-American poet who read a poem at President Obama’s swearing-in after the 2012 election, becoming the first openly gay person to deliver such a reading, will recite one of his works before Mr. Kerry speaks. …

The embassy ceremony, which will be streamed live on the State Department website, will be attended by ranking Cuban and American officials, United States lawmakers and some private citizens, but no Cuban dissidents.

“It is principally a government-to-government event, and it is extremely constrained in space,” a senior State Department official said on Wednesday.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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