Lugar to Obama: Reach Out and Touch Cuba

Senator slams embargo, calls for policy shift, new envoy
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 2, 2009 8:12 AM CDT
Cuba's President Raul Castro, center, and Cuba's Parliament's President Ricardo Alarcon, left, attend a ceremony in Havana, Tuesday, March 24, 2009.   (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco/Prensa Latina)
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(Newser) – As members of Congress move to rethink US-Cuban relations, Sen. Richard Lugar is urging President Obama to take firm action, including initiating direct talks, the Washington Post reports. The Indiana Republican says the US embargo on the country “undermines our broader security and political interests in the Western Hemisphere,” running counter to Latin American, European, and UN views.

The US should dispatch an envoy to the country for talks and must stop opposing Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States, Lugar said in a letter to Obama. He pointed to an upcoming summit in Trinidad as “a unique opportunity” to signal a policy shift. The Foreign Relations Committee's ranking Republican is backing a new Senate bill to open up travel to Cuba; a comparable House effort has some 120 sponsors.