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Trump thrusts US, Cuba back toward hostile relationship

18 June 2017

Cuban President Raul Castro visited Russian Federation in 2015 while President Vladimir Putin visited the island on a tour of Latin America in 2014, meeting both the president and the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died past year.

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington, Friday, June 16, 2017, after speaking about Cuba policy in Miami. Diplomatic relations, restored only two years ago, will remain intact.

"The policy centres on the belief that the oppressed Cuban people - rather than the oppressive Castro regime's military and its subsidiaries - should benefit from American engagement with the island", he said.

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The move is created to target the repressive elements of the Cuban regime over human rights concerns and not the Cuban people, said officials, who briefed reporters ahead of the announcement on the condition they not be named. And they will saddle the USA government with the complicated task of policing U.S.travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy. "The last two years have shown that the two countries can cooperate and coexist in a civilized way", it said. United States airlines and cruise ships are to still be allowed to serve the island 145km south of Florida. Trump isn't overturning Obama's decision to end the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed most Cuban migrants who made it onto USA soil to stay and eventually become legal permanent residents.

Yet it also exposed the shortcomings in Obama's approach.

The changes will not go into effect until regulations are drafted by the US Treasury Department and other agencies, officials said.

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Trump aides said Thursday that Rubio was "very helpful" to the administration as it spent months reviewing the policy. Cuba's government may not formally respond to Trump's speech until a speech Monday by its foreign minister.

The statement reiterates Cuba's commitment to "the necessary changes that we're making now as part of the updating of our socio-economic model", but says "they will continue being decided in a sovereign way by the Cuban people".

Former deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, who played a key role in the change of policy under Obama, accused Trump of "turning back the clock to a tragically failed Cold War mindset". The senator, who challenged Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, was expected to travel with the president aboard Air Force One and appear with him at Friday's announcement.

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Trump thrusts US, Cuba back toward hostile relationship