Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:51pm EDT
SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Costa Rica reopened diplomatic relations with Cuba on Wednesday, nearly 50 years after it broke formal ties with the communist-run island.
"It doesn't make sense today to maintain an official distance, when we have open channels of cooperation in various areas, when we have consular and commercial relations with Havana," President Oscar Arias told a news conference, after signing a decree to reopen formal relations.
Costa Rica cut ties with Cuba in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro's revolution, but has stepped up consular and commercial relations in recent years.
Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his role in bringing Central American civil wars to an end, has made a number of diplomatic shifts since taking office in 2006, including opening diplomatic relations with China and the Palestinian Authority.
(Reporting by John McPhaul, Editing by Sandra Maler)