Cuban President welcomes US Senator, Google CEO

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Havana, June 5 (IANS) Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel welcomed US Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Google CEO Eric Schmidt to the island country.

During their meeting on Monday, Diaz-Canel and the US visitors exchanged views on the state of bilateral relations and possible areas of cooperation and “mutual interest”, reports Efe news.

Flake, who has visited Cuba several times, the most recent trip being in January, is one of the main promoters in the US Congress of the rapprochement with Cuba and, in particular, of a bill that would eliminate travel restrictions to the island for US citizens.

President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed new limitations on the travel of US citizens to Cuba, a country which Americans cannot visit as tourists due to Washington’s financial embargo.

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During their meeting, Rodriguez thanked Flake and the Google executive for their interest in contributing to the debate in favour of an improvement in bilateral relations.

Google has been one of the tech giants that has been interested in moving into the Cuban telecommunications market since former US President Barack Obama launched the thaw in relations, although to date it has had only a very limited presence on the island.

Three years ago, the firm offered to broaden internet access in Cuba, which is still far below average international levels, but the proposal never developed into a concrete programme.

Flake and Schmidt were accompanied by US charge d’affaires in Cuba, Philip Goldberg, and Brett Perlmutter, the Google CEO’s adviser on Cuba.

Cuba and the US reopened their embassies in Washington and Havana in 2015 and signed numerous cooperation accords in security, immigration, education, healthcare and culture, but Trump halted the normalisation process.

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–IANS

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