After visit to Cuba, senators 'optimistic' on thaw
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A trio of senators is calling for friendly overtures toward Cuba after visiting the communist island nation Saturday.
 
 
The group is collectively pushing for warmer relations between the U.S. and Cuba after spending time there.
 
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“We’re optimistic this path that President Obama and President [Raul Castro] started will be continued,” Cardin said during a press conference in Havana.
 
“We think that this can be achieved this year, and we can make additional progress next year,” he added of improving diplomatic engagements between the two nations.
 
The trio met Cuba’s First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and many regular Cuban citizens during their trip.
 
Heller predicted Saturday that his Congressional chamber is the one that will inspire friendlier interactions between the U.S. and its longtime rival.
 
“I think the Senate can move the House, but the Senate’s going to have to act first,” he said of proposed legislation.
 
The Senate is currently considering potential bills that would permit American travel to Cuba and end the U.S. economic embargo on the Caribbean nation, according to Reuters.
 
Present restrictions allow certain Americans to visit Cuba, but general tourism is prohibited.
 
The House rejected an attempt at easing that travel ban June 6, voting 247-176 to defeat a proposal that would have loosened travel restrictions for U.S. citizens interested in journeying to Cuba.
 
It voted a day earlier to preserve a ban on exports that would reach members of the Cuba military and intelligence communities and their families.
 
Obama announced last December he was restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba after decades of hostility between both countries.
 
The U.S. originally severed ties with Havana in 1961 during the height of Cold War tensions.
 
Raul Castro and his predecessor, Fidel Castro, have long antagonized the U.S. with their foreign policies and alleged human rights abuses in Cuba.
 
Each country is receptive to reopening an embassy in the others’ borders.
 
Talks on the matter are ongoing, and the unveiling of new diplomatic missions is expected soon.