Jeffrey DeLaurentis (L), charge d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, and Marta Oramas, Cuban deputy minister of transport, exchange documents in Havana, Cuba, on Jan. 18, 2017. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)
HAVANA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Cuba and the U.S. signed on Tuesday an agreement to expand cooperation on air, sea search and rescue.
The deal was inked by the charge d'affaires of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and the Cuban Deputy Minister of Transport, Marta Oramas. It aims to strengthen collaboration in this area and increase the efficiency of assistance being provided to victims of accidents.
"Coordination on this issue is essential for our countries, particularly as authorized trade increases as well as the flow of travelers between the two nations," said DeLaurentis after the signing ceremony.
DeLaurentis added that both governments have worked together on search and rescue operations for more than 20 years, and stressed that this alliance will continue to save lives.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis (2nd L), charge d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, and Marta Oramas (2nd R), Cuban deputy minister of transport, sign documents in Havana, Cuba, on Jan. 18, 2017. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)
Oramas pointed out that the agreement establishes the commitment of both governments to work together in a coordinated way when necessary to rescue and save lives.
She referred to the joint adoption in 2014 of operational procedures and good implementation practices in the rescue of accident victims by air and sea.
Oramas said that the agreement will also allow for joint exercises, periodic reviews through communication channels, reciprocal visits by experts and the exchange of information.
This agreement comes at an active time for bilateral ties, after the resuming of direct regular flights last August between the two countries.
Cuba and the U.S. restored relations in July 2015 after more than five decades of political enmity.
Since then, Havana and Washington have endorsed several cooperation agreements on issues such as aviation, science, and healthcare, among others.
Cuba received 614,333 visitors from the U.S. in 2016, a 34 percent rise over 2015.