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White House on Cuba: "We want to make this policy change irreversible"

Friday, February 19, 2016 - 01:56

Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes, outlines what President Obama's visit to Cuba in March will look like. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that the upcoming trip of President Barack Obama to Cuba is part of a plan to make re-engagement between the U.S. and Cuba "irreversible." President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Cuba on March 21st through March 22nd, where the President is expected to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro -- not with former President Fidel Castro, Rhodes said. "We want to make this policy change irreversible," Rhodes said. The Guantanamo Bay prison is expected to be part of the bilateral discussions. Rhodes outlined the objectives of the trip to Cuba, saying, "As we considered whether to go this year to Cuba, the President's judgment was that number one, going to Cuba was an important step forward in signaling this new beginning between our two countries and peoples, and also importantly that going to Cuba could help enlarge this space that benefits the Cuban people and increases ties between our countries." He said, "He'll be meeting with dissidents, with members of civil society, including those who certainly oppose the Cuban government's policies," Rhodes said. After decades of animosity following Cuba's 1959 revolution, the two countries agreed in 2014 to move to reopen ties. It was diplomatic feat that is likely to be a highlight of Obama's foreign policy legacy along with the reaching of a nuclear deal with another long-time U.S. foe, Iran. Although the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba remains in place, a presidential visit carries huge symbolic value and prestige.

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White House on Cuba: "We want to make this policy change irreversible"

Friday, February 19, 2016 - 01:56