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US not to ease sanctions against Cuba

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Washington: US President Barack Obama will not take measures to ease the embargo on Cuba unless the government in Havana makes significant progress in democratic and economic reforms, his Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken said.
Blinken made the comment on Wednesday when Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio (Democrat) asked him about rumours that Obama was going to use executive measures to relax part of the economic embargo on Cuba.

“Unless Cuba is able to demonstrate that it is taking meaningful steps to move forward, I don`t see how we can move forward in the relationship,” Blinken said.

He added that the President had ideas to help move Cuba in a democratic direction, but it all depended on Cuba and its actions.

The deputy national security advisor has been nominated by Obama to become the State Department`s number two and was appearing before a Senate panel for his confirmation hearings.

US academic and political circles have been debating the possibility of normalising relationships with Cuba, a country with which the US ended its diplomatic ties in 1961 and on which economic and trade embargoes were imposed in 1962.

Blinken said that the “unjust imprisonment” in Cuba of American subcontractor Alan Gross since 2009 was also an obstacle for improving ties.

In the Senate hearing, another American-Cuban Senator, Democrat Bob Menéndez, said that Cuba should not be allowed to attend the 2015 Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama.

The US government is yet to confirm it will attend the summit but argues that Cuba should not be permitted as it does not comply with democratic ideals.

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