Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clinton, Obama willing to meet with new Cuban leader

"I would be ready to reach out and work with a Cuban government" if there were moves toward democracy and freedom for its people, Sen. Hillary Clinton said during the opening moments of tonight's Texas Democratic presidential debate on CNN.
She said she would not meet with the Cuban leader Raul Castro until she saw evidence that change was taking place.

"A presidential visit should not be offered and given" unless there is a change, Mrs. Clinton said.

Barack Obama said he, too, would be willing to meet with Castro, but that he would be willing to meet without preexisting conditions. It is important for the United States not just to talk with its friends, but with its enemies."

Obama suggested loosening travel restrictions between the two countries as a start. "I would not normalize relations."

Mrs. Clinton said a presidential visit should not be immediately offered, but that a lot of "preparatory work" should be done. "I would get back to very vigorous diplomacy," and "bipartisan diplomacy," saying it was time to let the world know that the "arrogance" of the Bush foreign policy is over.

Obama says the president must take a more active role in diplomacy precisely because "of the damage that has been over the last seven years" by President Bush.

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