Trump aides say Cuban government will have to change
The Cuban government must move toward enacting greater freedoms for its people and giving Americans something in return if it wants to keep warmer U.S. relations initiated by President Barack Obama, top aides to President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday.
The comments by Trump advisers Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus followed the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Castro's younger brother, 85-year-old Raul Castro, took control in 2006, and later negotiated with Obama to restore diplomatic relations.
Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff, said Trump would "absolutely" reverse Obama's opening to Cuba unless there is "some movement" from the Cuban government.
"Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships, and that's what President-elect Trump believes, and that's where he's going to head, " Priebus told "Fox News Sunday."
Conway made similar remarks and noted that any diplomatic deal will have to benefit American workers.
"To the extent that President Trump can open up new conversations with Cuba, it would have to be a very different Cuba," she told ABC's "This Week."
She added: "He wants to make sure that when the United States of America, when he's president, engages in any type of diplomatic relations or trade agreements ... that we as America are being protected and we as America are getting something in return."
Conway said nothing on Cuba has been decided. But she noted that the U.S. is allowing commercial aircraft to do business with a repressive Cuban government and Cuban military. And she said the "first order of business" is to rally the international community around trying to free political prisoners.
While Obama opened some U.S. investment and travel to Cuba through executive order, vast restrictions tied up in the trade embargo remain at the insistence of Republican lawmakers.
Separate memorial services have been scheduled for Tuesday and later in the week in Cuba for Castro, and some world leaders and celebrities were expected to attend. As of Sunday, though, the White House had not said whether anyone from the US government would attend.