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Pope Francis Plays Crucial Role in US-Cuba Rapprochement

© AP Photo / Filippo Monteforte, poolPope Francis touches his face during a press conference aboard the flight towards Rome
Pope Francis touches his face during a press conference aboard the flight towards Rome - Sputnik International
Pope Francis has praised the US-Cuba mutual rapprochement. International mass media point out the crucial role of the Roman pontiff in the negotiations.

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MOSCOW, December 18 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova – Pope Francis has praised the US-Cuba rapprochement, which has already been qualified as a historic breakthrough in relations of the longstanding rivals.

"Pope Francis led a chorus of global plaudits for Wednesday's breakthrough in US-Cuban relations, hailed as "historic" in Europe and South America and prompting celebrations on the streets of Havana," Agence France-Presse reported.

International mass media point out the crucial role of the pontiff in negotiations between the US and Cuba. "The Argentine pope played a key role as broker," notes the New York Times, adding that the historical event has coincided with the Pope's birthday.

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"Francis is being credited for helping bridge the divide by first sending letters to President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba, and then having the Vatican host a diplomatic meeting between the two sides in October [2014]," the media outlet elaborated.

The Vatican has rejected to disclose the details of the pontiff's letters, claiming that the head of the Roman Catholic Church repeatedly urged the two sides to resolve burning "humanitarian questions," including the liberation of political prisoners, and called upon the governments to initiate "a new phase in relations."

Hillary Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, hailed the decision of President Obama.

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"Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime's grip on power. As I have said, the best way to bring change to Cuba is to expose its people to the values, information, and material comforts of the outside world," she said as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

"The goal of increased U.S. engagement in the days and years ahead should be to encourage real and lasting reforms for the Cuban people. And the other nations of the Americas should join us in this effort," she added.

The European Union supported the historic rapprochement: Drawing a parallel between the event and the fall of the Berlin Wall, EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini expressed her hopes about expanding the mutually beneficial cooperation of the EU and "all parts of Cuban society."

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South America's political elites of the five-nation Mercosur bloc have met the news with great enthusiasm.

"We're living a historic day," claimed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, adding that the event has become a "moral victory" and "a victory for Fidel [Castro]," the iconic Cuban leader. 

However, the Cuban exile opposition in Miami's Little Havana, demonstrated their anger and dissatisfaction with the US government's decision.

"It is a betrayal. The talks are only going to benefit Cuba," said Carlos Munoz Fontanil, the representative of the exile community, as cited by Agence France-Presse.

Some of the Republican and Democratic policy makers in the US have also labeled the move as "inexplicable," warning that they would block any efforts to abolish the trade embargo.

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