Cuban business owners urge Trump to continue thaw in relations

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Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US were restored in 2015 (EPA Image)
Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US were restored in 2015 (EPA Image)

(BBC) More than 100 Cuban business owners have appealed to US President-elect Donald Trump not to reverse a recent thaw in bilateral relations.

In a letter, they said additional measures to boost travel, trade and investment would benefit both nations.

Mr Trump, who takes office on 20 January, has said he will end a deal under which ties were restored in 2015 unless Havana offers a “better deal”.

Cuba hopes to sign 12 agreements with the US before Mr Trump’s inauguration.

Cuban and US government officials on Wednesday held talks in Havana to discuss how this could be achieved during President Barack Obama’s remaining weeks in office.

“At the moment we are negotiating 12 more (agreements) with the aim to be able to conclude and sign a majority of them,” said Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s Director of US Affairs.

She said that a number of agreements had already been signed with Washington since 2015.

Ms Vidal also expressed hopes that the bilateral relations would continue improving but “within the respect of the existing differences and without having to make any kind of concession to the principles in which Cuba firmly believes”.

President Obama has worked to improve relations with the communist government in Havana, culminating in his historic visit in March 2016.

trump-today1But in November, Mr Trump threatened in a tweet to put an end to the detente following the death of Fidel Castro.

Mr Trump said that if “Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal”.

Mr Trump’s camp accuses the Obama administration of giving too much away to Cuba without receiving enough in return.

The president-elect also described Fidel Castro as a “brutal dictator”.

Under Mr Obama, diplomatic ties were restored in July 2015 after being severed in 1961.

Some trade restrictions have been eased and the White House has been lobbying the US Congress to terminate an economic embargo that has been in place for decades.

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