Cuba must reform before U.S. eases stance – Obama

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – The United States is ready  to change its stern policy toward Cuba but has not seen steps  from Havana that would justify lifting its embargo, President  Barack Obama said today.

Obama said he did not want to be “stuck in a Cold War  mentality” and that Washington had sought to improve ties by  changing rules about remittances and travel but was waiting for  signals from Cuba such as the release of political prisoners  and guarantees of basic human rights.

He urged the communist-run Caribbean island, under a U.S.  embargo for the last five decades, to join the wave of  democratic change sweeping the Arab world and that ousted most  authoritarian rulers in Latin America in decades past.

“The time has come for the same thing to happen in Cuba,”  Obama said in a question and answer session with U.S. Hispanic  media. “If we see positive movement then we will respond in a  positive way.”

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused Obama on Monday of  talking “gibberish” in his recent speech to the United Nations  and said NATO’s actions in Libya were a “monstrous crime.”

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