The State Department will start flying the Cuban flag in its lobby on Monday, an act that symbolizes the re-establishment of normalized relations between the US and Cuba for the first time in more than 54 years.

The Cuban president reaffirmed that as long as the economic, commercial and financial blockade was in force it was hard to conceive of normal relations between Cuba and the US.

Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro in April and Havana’s rapprochement with other states, “a new door has opened”, Steinmeier said in a statement.

That signaled a break from USA efforts to overthrow or destabilize the Cuban government since Fidel Castro’s rebels came to power in a 1959 revolution.

Asserting the nation’s independence in the face of U.S. demands for an abandonment of socialist principles, Mr Castro said: “Changing whatever needs to be changed is a sovereign matter and exclusive to the Cubans”.

The 2016 U.S. State Department budget request includes $20 million for such programs to aid victims of political repression, support civil society and promote free speech.

Berlin said he would meet his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez and the ministers for economy and culture Thursday and Friday, as well as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino.

State Department spokesman John Kirby says the flag will be hung early Monday morning before a ceremony to mark the re-opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington.

Washington has yet to schedule U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Havana to raise the American flag.

“As we have said, it is about founding a new kind of tie between both states, that is different from all our shared history”.