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    A car with a Cuban flag is parked near Cuban Capitol in Havana December 18, 2014. Cuban President Raul Castro hailed a landmark exchange of prisoners with the United States on Wednesday and praised U.S. President Barack Obama as the two countries agreed to normalize relations after more than five decades of hostility

    Normalization of US-Cuba Relations Focused on Business: US Official

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    US-Cuba Relations Recieve Major Makeover (174)
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    Economic assistance will not be on the US and Cuban officials' meeting agenda next month, although Washington wants to encourage economic independence of Cubans.

    WASHINGTON, December 19 (Sputnik) — Economic assistance will not be on the US and Cuban officials meeting agenda next month, although Washington is willing to discuss supporting Cuban businesses, a US official stated.

    “If what you’re suggesting is some kind of economic assistance, no,” US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson said Thursday, reacting to a question about providing aid to Cuba.

    “To the extent that we can support the cuentapropistas, the independent business people, to start their own business where that’s loosened up in Cuba, and entrepreneurship, we will do that,“ Jacobson added.

    President Barack Obama made clear that one of the things the United States is trying to do is encourage economic independence of Cubans, she also said.

    “Beyond that, I don’t really see any additional economic angle to what continues to be a fairly centrally state-run and rather exhausted model in Cuba,” Jacobson stated.

    The official also announced that the United States would commence talks to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in Havana in January. Next steps will also include potentially removing Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

    On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the United States was relaxing trade and travel restrictions on Cuba. An embargo has been in place since 1961 due to Cold War antagonism between Washington and the Communist government in Havana.

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    US-Cuba Relations Recieve Major Makeover (174)

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