WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Cuba will open embassies in their capital cities after more than 50 years of hostilities between the two countries. The latest developments (all times local):

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4:20 p.m.

Republican presidential contenders are speaking out against the plan for the U.S. and Cuba to open embassies in each other’s capitals.

Marco Rubio says he’ll continue to oppose the confirmation of any ambassador to Cuba until its leaders address human rights abuses and meet other conditions. The Florida senator and son of Cuban immigrants accuses the Obama administration of making “unilateral concessions” to an “odious regime.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says the plan is “legitimizing the brutal Castro regime.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz calls it a “slap in the face of a close ally” that the U.S. would place an embassy in Havana before putting one in Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy for Israel is in Tel Aviv because of sensitivities in the Middle East about moving it to Jerusalem. Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant father.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says Obama is “foolishly” rewarding Cuban leaders.

But Rand Paul has been silent on the embassy plan. The Kentucky senator has supported the normalization of relations with Cuba.

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2 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the announcement that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen embassies, calling the restoration of diplomatic ties “an important step on the path toward the normalization of relations.”

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the secretary-general “hopes that this historic step will benefit the peoples of both countries.”

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12:32 p.m.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American and 2016 presidential contender, excoriated President Barack Obama over the new diplomatic ties with Cuba, calling it “unconditional surrender” to the Castros.

Cruz says the Cuban regime is “one of the most violently anti-American regimes on the planet.” And the Texas senator is threatening to block any Obama nominee for ambassador. Cruz also says he will work to stop funds for embassy construction unless Obama can show that he has made progress in alleviating the “misery of our friends, the people of Cuba.”

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11:54 a.m.

One of the harshest critics of President Barack Obama’s outreach to Cuba is a fellow Democrat — Sen. Bob Menendez.

The New Jersey senator, in a statement Wednesday, ripped the administration for its plans to open the embassy in Havana. Menendez said the Cuban government is the only one in the Western Hemisphere, “which the Obama administration has chosen to establish relations with, that is not elected by its citizens.”

Menendez said the message from the administration “is democracy and human rights take a back seat to a legacy initiative.”

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Cuban President Raul Castro says he’s “pleased” to confirm his country will resume diplomatic ties with the United States.

Castro writes in a letter to President Barack Obama that Cuba is doing so because it is “encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations and cooperation between our people and governments.”

However a separate statement from the government says reopening embassies is just the first step in “a long and complex process toward normalization of bilateral ties.”

It demands an end to the U.S. embargo, the return of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, a halt to U.S. radio and TV broadcasts aimed at the other island and other grievances.

Castro’s letter and the government statement were read out by a presenter on state television Wednesday morning.

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11:22 a.m.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is cautiously welcoming word from the Obama administration of plans to open an embassy in Cuba as the White House seeks to normalize ties to the Cold War foe.

“I still distrust Castro, but we have to get that regime to open up, stop human rights abuses, and give the Cuban people their basic freedoms. I think reopening the embassies is a necessary step in the long process toward achieving that goal,” Nelson said in a statement.

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11:35 a.m.

Secretary of State John Kerry says he’ll travel later this summer to Havana to raise the stars-and-stripes over the new U.S. Embassy to Cuba.

Kerry didn’t give a precise date for opening the embassy.

But he called Wednesday’s announcement of normalized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba “long overdue.”

He credited Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro with making a necessary change.

Speaking in Vienna, where he was attending nuclear talks with Iran, Kerry said the former Cold War foes still have sharp differences over democracy, human rights and other matters.

An embassy, he said, will allow the U.S. to engage the Cuban government and people, and help Americans traveling to the island.

Kerry, recovering from a broken leg, spoke from a city square with crutches at his side.

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11:21 a.m.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the Obama administration is handing Fidel and Raul Castro “a lifetime dream of legitimacy without getting a thing” for the Cuban people who have been oppressed by a brutal communist dictatorship.

In a statement, the Republican leader maintained that relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom — “and not one second sooner.”

The statement underscores the heavy lift for the administration in persuading Congress to end the embargo or even approve any taxpayer dollars on a U.S. embassy in Havana.

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11:10 a.m.

Cuban television is broadcasting President Obama’s statement on resuming diplomatic ties.

The transmission is happening live on state television with a translation into Spanish.

It is highly unusual for Cuban TV to carry a U.S. presidential speech, although Havana broadcasters also did so in December when the two countries announced a historic detente.

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11:10 a.m.

President Barack Obama says the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington is another demonstration that the U.S. doesn’t have to be imprisoned by the past.

Obama is announcing the formal restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. He’s calling it an “historic step.”

Obama says Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana over the summer to raise the American flag over the embassy.

Obama says the reopening of a full embassy in Havana means American diplomats will be able to engage directly with Cuban government officials, civil society leaders and ordinary Cubans. He’s referring to the freedom of movement for U.S. diplomats that had been a sticking point in negotiations to reopen the embassies.

Obama is also calling on Congress to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. He says lawmakers should listen to the Cuban people and the American people who oppose maintaining economic sanctions against the island nation.

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10:13 a.m.

The Cuban government says Havana and Washington will restore full diplomatic relations and reopen embassies July 20.

The Foreign Ministry in Havana made the announcement Wednesday morning after receiving a letter from President Barack Obama to Cuban President Raul Castro.

The onetime Cold War foes have not had full diplomatic ties for more than five decades.

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9:30 a.m.

The United States’ top diplomat in Havana has delivered a letter from the White House to Cuba about restoring embassies in the countries’ respective capitals.

U.S. Interests Section chief Jeffrey DeLaurentis arrived at the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana on Wednesday morning to hand-deliver the message.

Photographers and video journalists were allowed to document the encounter, but neither he nor Cuban officials spoke publicly.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior Obama administration officials, including the White House chief of staff, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private email address for her government correspondence, according to some 3,000 pages of correspondence released by the State Department late Tuesday night.

The chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, requested Clinton’s email address on Sept. 5, 2009, according to one email. His request came three months after top Obama strategist David Axelrod asked the same question of one of Clinton’s top aides.

But it’s unclear whether the officials realized Clinton, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was running her email from a server located in her home in Chappaqua, New York — a potential security risk and violation of administration policy.

The emails, covering March through December 2009, were posted online as part of a court mandate that the agency release batches of Clinton’s private correspondence from her time as secretary of state every 30 days starting June 30.

The regular releases of Clinton’s correspondence all but guarantee a slow drip of revelations from the emails throughout her primary campaign, complicating her efforts to put the issue to rest. The goal is for the department to publicly unveil 55,000 pages of her emails by Jan. 29, 2016 — just three days before Iowa caucus-goers will cast the first votes in the Democratic primary contest. Clinton has said she wants the emails released as soon as possible.

A Republican-led House panel investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, also is examining emails of Clinton and other former department officials, raising the possibility of further revelations into 2016. The State Department provided more than 3,600 pages of documents to the committee on Tuesday, including emails.

Pushing back, the Clinton campaign released a video on Wednesday that argues that seven previous investigations have debunked the conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, and the panel’s sole purpose is to rough up Clinton politically ahead of the presidential election.

“How long will Republicans keep spending tax dollars on this political charade?” the video asks.

The emails ranged from the mundane details of high-level public service — scheduling secure lines for calls, commenting on memos and dealing with travel logistics — to an email exchange with former President Jimmy Carter and a phone call with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Carter mildly chided Clinton about how to handle the release of two hostages held in North Korea, while Clinton recounted that Rice, her predecessor, “called to tell me I was on strong ground” regarding Israel.

One day in November 2009, aide Huma Abedin forwarded Clinton a list of 11, back-to-back calls she was scheduled to make to foreign ministers around the world.

“Can’t wait. You know how much I love making calls,” Clinton responded.

In one email, Clinton tells Abedin, “I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Can I go? If not, who are we sending?” Clinton was later informed it wasn’t a full Cabinet meeting.

The emails also reflect the vast scope of Clinton’s network, after several decades in Washington. She advises her future 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta to wear socks to bed, and passes on advice from former campaign strategist Mark Penn with the note “overlook the source.”

Clinton’s emails have become an issue in her early 2016 campaign, as Republicans accuse her of using a private account rather than the standard government address to avoid public scrutiny of her correspondence. As the controversy has continued, Clinton has seen ratings of her character and trustworthiness drop in polling.

The newly released emails show Clinton sent or received at least 12 messages in 2009 on her private email server that were later classified “confidential” by the U.S. government because officials said they contained activities relating to the intelligence community.

Clinton’s correspondence from her first year as the nation’s top diplomat left little doubt that the Obama administration was aware that Clinton was using a personal address.

“The Secretary and Rahm are speaking, and she just asked him to email her — can you send me her address please?” Amanda Anderson, Emanuel’s assistant, wrote.

Abedin passed along the request to Clinton. “Rahm’s assistant is asking for your email address. U want me to give him?”

Less than a minute later, Clinton replied that Abedin should send along the address.

Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago, said at a news conference Wednesday that he was honored to serve as Obama’s chief of staff.

“I’ve also got to tell you, the farthest thing from my mind today, given all the challenges that we face as a city and all the opportunities we face, is what server Bill and Hillary Clinton had at their home,” Emanuel said.

In June 2009, Axelrod requested Clinton’s address, according to a message to Clinton from chief of staff Cheryl Mills.

“Can you send to him or do you want me to? Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours,” Clinton replied, referencing some of her top aides.

Axelrod said Wednesday that while he knew Clinton had a private email address, “I did not know that she used it exclusively or that she had her server in her home.”

The White House counsel’s office also was not aware at the time Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the attacks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Clinton turned her emails over to the State Department last year, nearly two years after leaving the Obama administration. She said she got rid of about 30,000 emails she deemed exclusively personal.

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Associated Press writers Jack Gillum, Eileen Sullivan, David T. Scott, Stephen Braun, Donna Cassata, Ted Bridis, Alan Fram and Ken Thomas in Washington, and Sophia Tareen in Chicago, contributed to this report.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Want to take a picture inside the White House Blue Room? Well, it’s now OK to pull out your cellphone or camera and press “shoot.”

The White House on Wednesday ended a long-standing ban on tourists taking photos or using social media during public tours of the building. Michelle Obama made the announcement in a video posted on her Instagram account.

“If you’ve been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign,” she says, holding up a placard that states “No Photos or Social Media Allowed.” ”Well, not anymore,” she adds, and then dramatically rips the sign in half.

Those visiting the presidential mansion on Wednesday with cameras in hand may have also taken note of another visual: sharp, metal spikes being installed atop the White House fence. The Secret Service upgrade comes amid concerns about would-be intruders scaling the fence and jeopardizing the president’s security, but is intended as a temporary measure until a long-term change for the fence can be put in place.

The White House said the more than 40-year-old photo ban was lifted because changes in camera technology make it possible to take high-quality photos using less light. Strong light can damage the delicate pigments used in art work.

Tourists arriving Wednesday were busily taking pictures.

“I’m very happy they changed the rule. I’m taking as many as I can,” said Michael Labrecque of Palm Harbor, Florida. He posed in the East Room with sons Madison, 11, and Mason, 9, as his wife Melinda looked on.

Korey Richardson, 47, of San Jose, California, was on his first White House tour.

“I’m taking tons of pictures, at least 30 so far,” Richardson said. “I’ve already uploaded some to Facebook friends.”

Other visitors took photographs of a new sign that said: “Photography is Encouraged.”

Still on the banned list are video cameras, including action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks. Flash photography and live-streaming also remain prohibited.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

WASHINGTON (AP) — Want to take a picture inside the White House landmark Blue Room? Well, it’s now OK to pull out your cellphone or camera and press “shoot.”

The White House on Wednesday ended a long-standing ban on tourists taking photos or using social media during public tours of the building.

First Lady Michelle Obama made the announcement in a video posted on her Instagram account.

“If you’ve been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign,” she says holding up a placard that states “No Photos or Social Media Allowed.” ”Well, not anymore,” she adds, and then dramatically rips the sign in half.

The White House said the more than 40-year-old ban was lifted because changes in camera technology make it possible to take high-quality photos using less light. Strong light can damage the delicate pigments used in art work.

Tourists arriving Wednesday were busily taking pictures.

“I’m very happy they changed the rule. I’m taking as many as I can,” said Michael Labrecque, who came to tour the White House from Florida with his wife and their two sons.

Still on the banned list are video cameras, including action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks. Flash photography and live-streaming also remain prohibited.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s main Kurdish party warned Turkey on Wednesday that any military intervention would threaten international peace and said the country’s main Kurdish militia is ready to face any “aggression.”

Meanwhile, a Syrian rebel group released a video showing 18 Islamic State militants being shot in the backs of their heads.

The statement by the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, comes as Turkish media is abuzz with talk of a long-debated military intervention to push the Islamic State group back from the Turkish border — a move that would also outflank any Kurdish attempt to create a state along Turkey’s southern frontier.

Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have been on the offensive against the IS group in northern Syria for months, and now control a long stretch along the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey, which battled a decades-long Kurdish insurgency, has viewed the advance with growing concern and has warned it will not tolerate the establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria.

Two weeks ago, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which is dominated by the PYD, captured the border town of Tal Abyad, denying the IS group a crucial nearby border crossing used to bring in supplies and foreign fighters.

The capture of Tal Abyad cleared the way for the Kurds to connect their stronghold in Syria’s northeast to the once badly isolated border town of Kobani — where they famously resisted a months-long Islamic State siege — and possibly extend it to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria’s northwest.

“Any military intervention in Rojava will have local, regional and international repercussions and will contribute to complicating the political situation in Syria and the Middle East and threaten international security and peace,” the PYD statement warned. Rojava is a term that refers to Syria’s predominantly Kurdish region.

The PYD called on NATO members to prevent Turkey from carrying out any “reckless” intervention. It added that Syria’s Kurds want good relations with their neighbors and have no intention to set up an independent state.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a National Security Council meeting Monday which covered developments in Syria. Pro-government newspapers said proposals ranged from loosening the rules of engagement to give Turkish troops a freer hand to fire into Syria, to a tanks-and-troops invasion aimed at occupying a 110-kilometer (70-mile) long, 33-kilometer (20-mile) wide buffer zone.

Turkish officials fear the creation of a vast and contiguous zone of Kurdish control could stir up separatist sentiment among its own Kurdish minority. Ankara is also concerned over reports that Kurdish rebels are chasing other ethnic groups, such as Arabs and Turkmens, out of the areas under their control.

The PYD statement said YPG fighters “are ready to repel any aggression by any party.” It called on Turkish officials to “stop their provocative and reckless acts.”

Earlier Wednesday, YPG spokesman Redur Khalil said Kurdish fighters now fully control Tal Abyad, after repelling a surprise Islamic State attack that saw the extremists briefly seize the northeastern neighborhood of Mashhour. Khalil said three IS fighters were killed and a fourth blew himself up.

Also Wednesday, the Syrian rebel Islam Army faction released a video showing the shooting deaths of 18 Islamic State militants whom they had been holding. The IS fighters came from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

The Islam Army video came a week after IS released a video showing the beheading of 12 Islam Army members who had been captured by the extremists. The group warned its other rivals to repent or face the same fate.

The Islam Army video showed the 18 IS members in black uniforms with arms and legs shackled as they were pulled by a chain around their necks. The men were made to kneel in a field and their masks removed before each of them was shot in the back of the head.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting of the events.

Islam Army has fought deadly battles against the Islamic State group over the past year mostly in the suburbs of the capital Damascus. Islam Army leader Zahran Allouch is one of the harshest critics of IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese police on Wednesday searched the apartment of the man who set himself on fire on a high-speed bullet train, killing himself and another passenger, as officials sought clues to his motive.

Investigators identified the man as 71-year-old Haruo Hayashizaki. He poured an oil-like liquid over himself and set fire to it at one end of a train car on Tuesday, filling the coach with smoke and killing himself. A 52-year-old female passenger died from suffocation after suffering throat burns. The train was traveling from Tokyo to Osaka.

Investigators searched Hayashizaki’s apartment in Tokyo, looking for clues to his actions. Television video showed them carrying out cardboard boxes filled with confiscated items. Police said they haven’t yet determined the motive.

Japanese media quoted his neighbors as saying he had repeatedly complained that his meager pension was barely enough to live on.

The transport ministry said the incident was the first fire on a bullet train in its 50-year history.

Many Japanese mourned the second victim, Yoshiko Kuwahara, who had written on her Facebook page that she was traveling to a Shinto shrine at Ise to pray and give thanks for her “peaceful and safe” life in the first half of the year. As an osteopath, she said her dream was to “heal the pain in the heart and body of other people.”

As the nation tried to recover from the shocking incident, transport officials met with bullet train operators to seek ways to tighten security without affecting the efficiency of the trains.

Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta told the meeting that it would be important to step up luggage controls, also as part of anti-terrorism and fire-prevention efforts.

“Naturally, safety comes first, but convenience is also important,” he said.

Some officials said Japan needs stricter security on its bullet trains ahead of next year’s Group of Seven summit in Japan and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But experts say it would be impossible to conduct airport-level luggage checks for the high-speed line, which operates trains every three minutes during rush hours.

The 16-car bullet trains, called shinkansen in Japanese, travel the 553 kilometers (343 miles) between Tokyo and Osaka in 2 hours and 33 minutes.