Obama and Castro were photographed shaking each other's hands
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro shake hands as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R) looks on, before the inauguration of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 10, 2015. Reuters/Panama Presidency/Handout

Though the United States formally restored diplomatic ties with Cuba, ending 54 years of hostilities, there seems to be no word from it in the matter of handing over the naval base of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.

According to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter Pentagon has no firm anticipation when it will happen. In July, the U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to reopen embassies in each other's capitals and maintain normal relations.

Carter told a Pentagon news conference that there was "no anticipation and no plan, with respect to the Guantanamo Bay naval station in Cuba." Cuba's government also said the United States urged Cuba to rescind its economic embargo on it for maintaining normal relations. Cuba's Communist government has raised the demand that the United States need to surrender the naval base, which it leased in 1903. Cuba wants the 116 square km bay restored to it at the earliest, as its sovereign territory.

Kerry To Visit Cuba

On July 2, marking the end of half a century of hostilities, President Barack Obama announced that the United States and Cuba would restore full diplomatic relations and open embassies on July 20. President Obama, speaking in the White House Rose Garden called the rapprochement as “a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people, and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas.”

Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to Havana and “proudly raise the U.S. flag" over the embassy, President Obama said. But no date has been set yet for the ceremony to mark the opening of the embassy. Kerry said in Vienna that he was looking forward to the Havana trip. It will be the first visit to Cuba by a U.S. secretary of state since 1945. “This transition, this moment in history, is taking place because President Obama made a personal, fundamental decision to change a policy that didn't work and that had been in place not working for far too long,” Kerry said.

The Cuban government has announced that that it planned to hold a ceremony to open the embassy in Washington on July 20. Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodríguez will lead the Cuban delegation.

Bush Donor Backs Cuba Ties

Meanwhile, prominent donor Mike Fernandez has backed revival of U.S.-Cuba relations in an op-ed published in the Miami Herald. Fernandez wrote: “Cuban Americans everywhere, especially the diaspora in South Florida, have been awakening to the reality that Cuba's isolation was and is not a sustainable strategy. The case has been made for decades that Cuba’s failure is a self-inflicted wound by its dictatorial leadership.”

It is a significant endorsement from a prominent political backer of Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, who had opposed the Cuba-U.S. relations saying it needs to be more than a photo op and render the Cubans the real opportunity to change their political future.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)