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US, Cuba seek to normalize relations: sources

Supporters rally on behalf of imprisioned US citizen Alan Gross, calling for US President Barack Obama to help free Gross, who has been in a Cuban prison for 4 years, during a rally in Lafayette Park December 3, 2013, across the street from the White House, in Washington, DC. Cuba has freed Alan Gross -- a US contractor jailed on the communist-ruled island since 2009 -- on humanitarian grounds at the request of the United States, a US official said on December 16, 2014. | Paul J. Richards / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — American officials say the U.S. and Cuba will start talks to normalize full diplomatic relations as part of the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades.

Officials say the U.S. is also looking to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months. The moves are part of an agreement between the U.S. and Cuba that also includes the release of American Alan Gross and three Cubans jailed in Florida for spying.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the agreement includes normalizing banking and trade ties with Cuba.

JULIE PACE, Associated Press

MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press