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Caribbean Leaders Urge United States to End Half-Century-Old Embargo Against Cuba

First Posted: Dec 08, 2014 06:12 PM EST

Gathering in Havana for a regional summit Caribbean leaders have urged the United States to end its 54-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, which Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, described as "senseless."

The summit, bringing together 15 Caribbean nations with Cuba, aims to increase trade and cooperation within the group and get leaders to discuss financial assistance and economic agreements.

Browne, as quoted in an Al Jazerra article, called upon President Obama to lift that embargo and affirmed his stance on the issue, saying: "We continue to stand with Cuba on the U.S. embargo against Cuba."

Winston Dookeran, Trinidad and Tobago's foreign minister, said the meeting of leaders, coupled with Cuba's invitation to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama in April was a sign of "the full integration of Cuba into the Western Hemisphere."

The United States, which is also invited to the summit, is not worried about Cuba's participation in the meeting with Caribbean leaders. Of the summit, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, "I think what we're focused on is less on who's invited and more on what's discussed."

Harf stated that in Panama the U.S. would focus its attention on shared commitments to the collective defense of democracy and to human rights.

The U.S. imposed the economic embargo on Cuba in 1960 after the communist country nationalized properties that once belonging to U.S. citizens and corporations. The U.S. and Cuba, since 1961, have been bereft of full diplomatic relations.

In September the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for the 23rd time to condemn the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

In a speech on the U.N. podium, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, as quoted in Reuters, asked the U.S. to end its economic embargo, saying: "We can try to find a solution to our differences through respectful dialogue.”

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