International

Cuba blasts Trump policy: 'We will never negotiate under pressure'

Cuba's foreign minister delivered a blistering critique of President Trump's effort to crack down on the island nation, saying "we will never negotiate under pressure or under threat," the Associated Press reported on Monday.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodr guez said the harder line on Cuba will only foster more unity behind the communist government instead of achieving the White House's objective of weakening Ra l Castro's control.

Rodriguez also flatly rejected Trump's demand that Havana return American fugitives who have received asylum in Cuba, saying the U.S. has no "legal or moral basis" to do so, according to the report.

After a nearly five-month review of former President Barack Obama's historic opening with the island nation, Trump announced a slew of new restrictions on Friday aimed at curtailing travel and commercial ties between the U.S. and Cuba.

"I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump said.

But the changes still leave many of the past president's policies in place, including keeping Cuba off a list of state sponsors of terrorism, leaving the U.S. Embassy in Havana and maintaining diplomatic ties with the country.

However, the administration will ban individual educational trips to Cuba and prohibit financial transactions that benefit the Cuban military. The White House hopes the move will funnel American commerce toward more private Cuban businesses.

"The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime," Trump said.

Trump also said that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Cuba unless the government meets a series of benchmarks, including the release of political prisoners, free elections and the legalization of political parties.

But there may be little room for high-level negotiations between the two countries, especially given Cuba's response to the new policy.

"Cuba will not make concessions that harm its sovereignty," Rodr guez said, "as we have never done in the history of the revolution."

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