- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2015

President Obama marked the one-year anniversary of his move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba by calling on Congress to end the U.S. embargo, saying normalization is a “long journey.”

“Congress can support a better life for the Cuban people by lifting an embargo that is a legacy of a failed policy,” Mr. Obama said.

After months of secret negotiations, Mr. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced one year ago that they were ready to end more than half a century of Cold War-era isolation and reopen embassies in each country. The embassies were reopened in July, and the U.S. also removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

But Congress is unlikely to lift the trade and financial embargo that the U.S. has imposed on the island since 1962. The embargo bars Americans from investing in Cuba or visiting the island for tourism, although the Obama administration has eased some restrictions, such as traveling and sending money to Cuba.

Mr. Obama said the two countries “are advancing our shared interests and working together on complex issues that for too long defined — and divided — us.”

“We continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but we raise those issues directly, and we will always stand for human rights and the universal values that we support around the globe,” he said. “Change does not happen overnight, and normalization will be a long journey.”

The president said in an interview Monday that he hopes to visit Cuba sometime before leaving office.

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