- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama intends to lift the U.S. ban on family members traveling to Cuba and remittances to the island, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The move would fulfill a pledge Obama made during the presidential campaign and could signal a new openness with the communist nation, the newspaper said in an article posted on its Web site.

Democrats in Congress are also moving to loosen restrictions on family travel to Cuba, but Obama plans to use presidential powers to ease the rules on his own, the Journal said, quoting an unidentified senior administration official.

The president does not intend to call for lifting the decades-long trade embargo against Cuba, which would require congressional approval, the report said.

Timing of the announcement is unclear, the Journal said, but there was speculation it could come before this month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

During the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to allow unlimited family travel and remittances to Cuba. “It’s time to let Cuban-Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and their brothers,” he said in a speech last May in Miami. “It’s time to let Cuban-American money make their families less dependent on the Castro regime.”

The rules will affect an estimated 1.5 million Americans who have relatives in Cuba, the Journal said.

Attempts to reach administration officials Friday night for comment on the report were unsuccessful.

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