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Trump threatens to end US detente with Cuba

November 28, 2016

Donald Trump on Monday threatened to end the Obama administration accord that restored diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba if the former Cold War foe did not negotiate a better deal with his government.

Following the death of longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Friday, the US president-elect tweeted that he would be willing to undo the historic deal struck in 2014 by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

“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 said in a social media message on Monday morning.

Mr Trump’s statement comes amid questions about the direction in which he will take US-Cuba relations following Castro’s death and the Republican’s surprise election victory earlier this month.

During the campaign, Mr Trump promised to renegotiate or jettison several military and trade deals struck by the US under his predecessors. His chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News over the weekend that the president-elect would seek movement in the “right direction” from Cuba to continue the relationship.

“We’ve got to have a better deal,” Mr Priebus told Fox News.

Mr Obama’s policy of detente sought to engineer a post-Castro soft landing via increased US tourism and business deals, an approach that critics said merely buttressed Havana’s communist regime.

Mr Trump, who tweeted on Saturday “Fidel Castro is dead!”, last week named Mauricio Claver-Carone, a political lobbyist and lawyer who has criticised normalisation of US-Cuban relations, to his transition team at the Treasury Department. The department is in charge of enforcing the US embargo’s trade and travel restrictions; Mr Claver-Carone is a director of the US-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee.

Mr Trump’s transition team said on Sunday that the president-elect had an “open mind” about how he would approach Cuba’s newly-opened diplomatic relations.

“He is open to researching and, in fact, resetting relations,” Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump adviser, told ABC. “His criticism of what has happened in the last couple of years is very simple — we got nothing in return.”

Via FT