- Title: Cuba welcomes ambassador nomination but says Obama can do more
- Date: 28th September 2016
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (RECENT) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF U.S. EMBASSY IN CUBA
- Embargoed: 13th October 2016 20:35
- Keywords: talks Cuba-U.S. normalization ambassador embargo
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Reuters ID: LVA00251HENNN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: U.S. President Barack Obama's nomination of an ambassador to Cuba is welcome but he should still do more to normalize relations between the two countries during his remaining time in office, a senior Cuban government official said on Wednesday (September 28).
Obama on Tuesday nominated career diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the top official at the U.S. Embassy in Havana since relations were restored last year, to be the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than five decades.
Gustavo Machin, the deputy director for U.S. affairs in the Cuban foreign ministry, said this was "welcome" news.
"We welcome, we welcome that nomination in the sense that it represents, and I'll say it again, that the United States embassy will be headed by an ambassador," he said.
Still, the nomination must be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, which is seen as a long shot in a presidential election year and given expected strong resistance from Cuban-American senators including Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.
Cuba appointed its ambassador to the U.S. a year ago.
Machin also said Cuba would make its concerns known during a bilateral commission meeting on Friday in Washington.
"The Cuban delegation will point out the lack of advances of in the economic, commercial sphere as a result of-- as we have repeated and reiterated-- as a result of the blockade that is in place and despite the measures adopted by President Obama's administration which we consider are positive but still insufficient and limited," Machin said.
Obama should also use his executive powers, as he has done in the past, to further hollow out the trade embargo imposed on Cuba after its 1959 revolution, he added.
Only Congress can lift the embargo, and the Republican leadership is not expected to allow such a move anytime soon.
Obama's critics meanwhile accuse him of already making too many concessions towards Cuba without getting enough in return.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said earlier this month that if elected he would seek to reverse the detente unless the leaders there allowed religious freedoms and freed political prisoners.
Machin said he hoped the next president would take into account the opinion of the majority of Americans, who agree with the opening to Cuba, according to opinion polls.
"We expect the next U.S. president to take into account and be in line with the opinion of most people in the United States and the opinion of vast and majority sectors of U.S. society," he added.
Despite the need for more progress still, the two countries have made concrete progress in improving relations over the past four months since a previous commission meeting, Machin said, for example re-launching commercial flights.
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