Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Obama nominates first US Ambassador to Cuba

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis as the first U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in over 50 years.

"Today, I am proud to nominate Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis to be the first U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in more than 50 years," Obama said in a news release issued by the White House.

Obama praised DeLaurentis' vital "leadership" throughout the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, which were two former rivals.

"There is no public servant better suited to improve our ability to engage the Cuban people and advance U.S. interests in Cuba than Jeff," Obama said.

The president described DeLaurentis, a career diplomat, as having "extensive experience in Cuba and Latin America."

DeLaurentis has been working with Cuba on issues that advance U.S. national interests, such as law enforcement, counternarcotics, environmental protection, combating trafficking in persons, expanding commercial and agricultural opportunities, and cooperation in science and health, Obama said.

"Having an ambassador will make it easier to advocate for our interests, and will deepen our understanding even when we know that we will continue to have differences with the Cuban government," Obama said.

The U.S. and Cuba resumed diplomatic relations in July 2015, ending more than five decades of hostilities. Obama paid a historical visit to Cuba in March in the first such visit by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years.

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