Obama: No quick fix to changing Cuba – New York Daily News

President Obama said Friday that resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba offers the best opportunity to reform the communist country’s government.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images President Obama said Friday that resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba offers the best opportunity to reform the communist country’s government.

WASHINGTON — There’s no quick fix to changing Cuba, but resuming diplomatic relations offers the best opportunity to reform Cuba’s government, President Obama said Friday.

“This is still a regime that represses its people,” Obama said two days after ending America’s half-century of estrangement with the communist nation.

But, he added, “The whole point of normalizing relations is that it gives us a greater opportunity to have influence with that government.”

Obama said he hopes to visit Cuba at some point in his life but that he is not at the stage yet of going or hosting Cuban President Raul Castro (pictured) in Washington.Ismael Francisco/AP Obama said he hopes to visit Cuba at some point in his life but that he is not at the stage yet of going or hosting Cuban President Raul Castro (pictured) in Washington.

“What I know deep in my bones is that if you’ve done the same thing for 50 years and nothing has changed you should try something different,” Obama said at his annual year-end press conference.

“This gives us an opportunity for a different outcome, because suddenly, Cuba is open to the world in ways that it has not been before.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiCorey Sipkin/New York Daily News Republicans, who will control both chambers of Congress in January, oppose easing the embargo and are considering efforts to limit Obama’s initiative by blocking funds for an embassy and blocking confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba.

Obama said he hopes to visit Cuba at some point in his life but that he is not at the stage yet of going or hosting Cuban President Raul Castro in Washington. He also said it’s unlikely that Congress will lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba anytime soon.

Republicans, who will control both chambers of Congress in January, oppose easing the embargo and are considering efforts to limit Obama’s initiative by blocking funds for an embassy and blocking confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba.

Obama suggested that congressional support for opening relations would grow over time.

“I think that ultimately we need to go ahead and pull down the embargo, which I think has been self-defeating in advancing the aims that we’re interested in. But I don’t anticipate that that happens right away,” he said.

“I think people are going to want to see how does this move forward before there’s any serious debate about whether or not we would make major shifts in the embargo.”

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