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'Not the time to lift embargo'

The United States does not see it fit to raise its trade embargo against Cuba at this time, the US Embassy in Port of Spain has said.

Acting public affairs officer at the US Embassy Alexander McLaren said in a statement Friday that the US is still one of Cuba's biggest trade and aid supporters but the embargo, imposed in 1960, stays.

The US Embassy was responding to a call by Caricom chairman Dr Denzil Douglas, that the sustained effort of the US to isolate Cuba must end "because the world has changed".

He was speaking on Thursday at the end of the two-day Caricom/Cuba Summit in Port of Spain, which was moved from the Hilton Trinidad to the National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA) after the hotel was not given a licence by the US government to accommodate Cuban President Raul Castro.

McLaren said:

"The American people are already the largest providers of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, and the United States is Cuba's fifth largest trading partner.

The administration has taken steps to improve conditions for Cuban citizens through initiatives aimed at increasing the flow of information, resources, and humanitarian relief to Cuba. 

 President Obama believes that this is not the time to lift the embargo on Cuba.  We continue to believe that the embargo provides an important source of leverage for further positive change on the island."

McLaren said the US has been Cuba's largest supplier of food and agricultural products for the last five years. 

In 2010, Cuba purchased over $300 million in food and agricultural products from the United States.  These products included poultry, soybean products, corn, wheat, feeds and pork, he said.

"The United States remains Cuba's top supplier of food as well as one of Cuba's top suppliers of medical equipment," McLaren stated.

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