The U.S. Should Consider Talking to Raul Castro, Sen. Biden Says

By Lindsay Hamilton

Feb 24, 2008 12:14pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce Reports: Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said this morning that the U.S. should consider opening relations with Cuba. When asked in an exclusive "This Week" interview if the U.S. should consider talking to Raul Castro, Biden explained "yes, probably. The end of the Castro era is in sight…so we should be preparing what that transition is going to look like." Fidel Castro’s brother Raul is poised to take over as the head of the Cuban government today. "We should be taking independent moves now, from establishing mail service to allowing more frequent family members, et cetera, but not lifting the embargo until there is a response to political prisoners, all the things that are wrong with this Castro administration," Biden said. 

In a separate interview Republican Policy Committee Chair Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, T-Tex., supported Biden’s view of reevaluating U.S.-Cuban relations. "I have believed, for a while, that we should be looking at a new strategy for Cuba…If we can give the people more contact with the outside world, if we can build up an economy that might make the people more able to fight the dictatorship, I think that’s something that we should have considered a while back," Hutchison explained.

Biden, a former 2008 presidential candidate, said he believes the next president has to be willing to take the first step towards furthering relations with Cuba. "For an American president to looking like he’s wiling to reach out and accommodate a rational transition to a free and open society — that’s a positive thing. That’s not a negative thing," he said. Although Biden, a superdelegate, has yet to endorse a candidate, he did note, "if you’ve noticed, Senator Obama has talked about setting the groundwork ahead of time, and laying this out."

On Pakistan, Biden and Hutchison said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should step down. Both senators recently returned from separate trips to the region.

"I would say that were I their political advisor, that’s what I would advise," Biden said.

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