09:31 GMT23 October 2020
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    The US President is seeking to shape the foreign policy of his successor by encouraging greater economic ties with Cuba, John Kavulich, President of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, told Sputnik.

    US President Barack Obama is using his last year in office to form a relationship with Cuba that his successor will not be able to roll back, John Kavulich, President of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, told Radio Sputnik.

    ​"There are three laws on the books that continue to prevent a 'normalized' relationship with Cuba, but President Obama's strategy during the final 306 days of his administration are to remove every regulatory obstacle so that when he does leave office, what is left for his successor is the shell of the laws," Kavulich said.

    "The president's goal is to have so many people going into Cuba, have so much, hopefully, commercial activity in Cuba, that whoever succeeds him, Democrat, Republican, Independent, will have a hard time dismantling any of it."

    "The challenge though will be, he will leave a very different relationship in place but it's up to the Cubans to decide how they want to go forward."

    Kavulich said that Cuba has benefited financially from a thawing of relations with the US under President Obama because of the lifting of sanctions, the opening of embassies and additional revenues from US citizens traveling to Cuba.

    However, he believes that Cuba needs greater engagement with the US in order to develop its economy further, the flip side of which is the threat of regime change.

    "You had heads of government visiting Cuba last year, Cuba signing an agreement with the Paris Club, renegotiating debt with Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, France, Spain and others, getting some investment guarantees from the Russian Federation relating to power generation."

    Tourists pass by images of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in a banner that reads Welcome to Cuba at the entrance of a restaurant in downtown Havana, March 17, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Alexandre Meneghini
    "But all of that, the only way Cuba can pay for it is with an active and robust reengagement with the US, and that's not something they necessary want because even though President Obama will say 'we are not interested in regime change,' they are interested in regime change."

    "It's just they don't necessarily want to change who is in the regime, but the want to change the behavior of who is in the regime, so it's an immensely complex series of transactions."

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    Tags:
    official visit, Raul Castro, Barack Obama, United States, Cuba
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