Obama hopes for US embassy in Cuba before April summit in Panama
“Keep in mind that our expectation has never been that we would achieve full normal relations immediately. There’s a lot of work that still has to be done,” he said.
While critics, including some members of Congress, have called the end of U.S. attempts to isolate Cuba a gift to the authoritarian Cuban government, Obama said there are already signs it is prompting Havana to liberalize.
“The very fact that, since our announcement, the Cuban government has begun to discuss ways in which they are going to reorganize their economy to accommodate for possible foreign investment, that’s already forcing a series of changes that promises to open up more opportunities for entrepreneurs, more transparency in terms of what’s happening in their economy,” he said.
“And that’s always been the premise of this policy; that, after 50 years of a policy that didn’t work, we need to try something new that encourages and ultimately I think forces the Cuban government to engage in a modern economy. And that will create more space for freedom for the Cuban people,” Obama said.
U.S. and Cuban negotiating teams held a second round of talks in Washington on Friday on normalizing ties. Both sides said they had made progress, although they did not set a date for formal renewal of diplomatic relations that the United States severed 54 years ago.
Josefina Vidal, head of the United States division of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, told state media on Sunday thatCuba is willing to restore diplomatic relations as soon as the Obama administration declares its intent to take Cubaoff a list of state sponsors of terrorism.