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Russia hopes U.S. fully lifts economic embargo on Cuba


MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry hopes the United States will end its 50-year trade and economic embargo against Cuba, a ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Monday that restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba would be lifted for Americans with relatives in the Caribbean country.

"We welcome the U.S. administration's decision and believe that after this step and other actions to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations will continue, leading up to a complete lift of the trade and economic blockade against Cuba," Andrei Nesterenko said.

He also added that lifting the blockade would be in line with the UN General Assembly's proposal on ending the embargo, which is backed by the majority of states.

In an article published on the government website CubaDebate.cu on Tuesday, longtime communist leader Fidel Castro said the decision was "positive, but only a minimal part" of what needs to be done. "Many other measures are needed," he said.

Obama said after his inauguration in January that Washington needed to normalize relations with Havana and issued instructions to close the controversial Guantanamo prison in Cuba, used to hold terrorist suspects, in one of his first acts in office.

However, he said that he would maintain the embargo in a bid to bring about democracy on the communist-ruled Caribbean island.

The United States imposed an economic, trade and financial embargo against Cuba in 1962, three years after the Cuban Revolution that saw the downfall of Washington-backed dictator Gen. Fulgencio Batista. The Cuban government estimates that the blockade has resulted in financial losses of around $86 billion.

If trade restrictions are eased or lifted, U.S. companies could receive full access to the Cuban market, and the annual demand for food and other goods are estimated to be around $2.5 billion.

The move would also give Cuba access to economic contacts with American companies.

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