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Americans favour closer Cuba ties

Washington, Sept. 17 (Reuters): By a large margin, Americans favour closer ties with Cuba, the target of long-standing US trade sanctions, according to a poll released today at a conference aimed at swaying US policy toward Havana.

Another poll, however, found that Americans favour lifting sanctions only if the communist-run island takes dramatic steps to reform itself.

Sanctions were imposed in the early 1960s after Cuban President Fidel Castro accepted aid from the Soviet Union. With the end of the Cold War, calls have risen for closer relations with Cuba.

Legislation was pending in Congress to end the ban on U.S. tourism to Cuba and to facilitate food sales to Havana.

At a “National Summit on Cuba,” pro-trade groups announced a nationwide poll found that 53 per cent of Americans thought that normalising relations would serve US interests. Some 34 per cent disagreed and 13 per cent took no position. Similar margins were compiled from responses to questions if Americans should be free to travel to Cuba without government interference and if US firms should be allowed to sell food to Cuba.

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