Wednesday, August 18, 2010

US plans more contacts with Cuba

US plans more contacts with Cuba

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's administration will soon announce
steps to increase contacts between the US and Cuban peoples, a senior
administration official said.

The plans come after Washington welcomed a deal last month in which Cuba
agreed to free 52 of 75 dissidents sentenced in 2003 to prison terms of
up to 28 years, but there was no sign of an easing of the decades-old US
trade embargo.

"We are reviewing ways of increasing people-to-people contact with Cuba.
Additional steps will be announced soon," a senior US official told AFP
when asked whether Washington will ease restrictions on Americans
traveling to Cuba.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Obama administration is
seeking to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to communist
Cuba, while leaving the US embargo in place.

It wants to loosen restrictions on travel by academic, religious and
cultural groups that were imposed by president George W. Bush's
administration and return to the "people-to-people policies" followed
under president Bill Clinton, it said.

The Obama administration last year lifted travel and money transfer
restrictions on Cuban-Americans with relatives in Cuba, but it has urged
Havana to free political prisoners and improve political freedoms.

The administration last year also resumed talks on migration with Cuba
that had been conducted every two years until Bush suspended them in 2003.

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