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Carter expects to win Bush approval for Cuba trip

From Brian Cabell
CNN Atlanta

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Jimmy Carter said Thursday he expects to win approval from the Bush administration to travel to Cuba -- the first former U.S. president to make such a trip during its more than four decades of Castro rule.

"I expect to get their tacit approval, not their blessing," the Democrat said Thursday after a luncheon at the Carter Center here.

"We can't go, obviously, without the permission of the government. My understanding is that they will give that approval."

The former Georgia governor, who occupied the White House from 1976 to 1980, would be the first president or former president to visit Cuba since the two nations severed relations in 1961.

He has not yet decided on a date for the trip, a spokeswoman for the Carter Center in Atlanta said, but it would likely be sometime this year.

Carter's view of relations with Cuba has differed sharply from those of administrations that followed his. He has said that, had he won re-election in 1980, he would have pursued better relations with Havana.

The United States severed formal diplomatic ties to Cuba after Fidel Castro took power and turned Cuba into a Communist nation. There has been a U.S. trade embargo against Cuba for more than 40 years, though it has eased just slightly in recent years.

Carter has urged a further easing of trade and travel restrictions to the island nation.




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