- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he thinks normalization of relations with Cuba is a “bad idea.”

Walker commented after being asked about the Obama administration’s announcement that it was restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than a half-century of discord. Obama declared an end to America’s “outdated approach” to dealing with the island.

But Walker, who is considering a run for president in 2016, wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t think there’s been any noticeable change toward making that a more free or prosperous country,” Walker said. “There’s a reason why we had the policy in the first place. I haven’t seen solid enough evidence to make me believe there’s been a noticeable change to change the policy this country’s had through administrations in both parties.”

Walker told reporters that without sanctions on Cuba “it opens the doors to problems.”

“Changing relations with Cuba right now without them showing a noticeable change in what kind of freedoms they’re willing to put in place is a problem,” Walker said. “No matter who the president is, no matter what party is in charge, consistently in the past we’ve said if you want to have a more normal relationship with the United States you need to show that you’re committed to the same freedoms and rights we have here in the United States.”

The normalization announcement followed more than a year of secret talks between the U.S. and Cuba. Setting the stage for the diplomatic breakthrough, Cuba released Alan Gross, an American who’d been imprisoned for five years, and a Cuban who had spied for the U.S. In exchange, three Cubans jailed in Florida were released by the U.S.

Walker, when asked whether Gross’ release was a positive sign, said Cuba was “making a few moves right now, but those are things that can be easily altered.”

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP


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