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US Senate committee votes to ease Cuba travel restrictions

Update: July, 24/2015 - 11:19

WASHINGTON — The US Senate Appropriations Committee approved a slate of amendments on Thursday that open to the door to restoring open travel to Cuba, as well shipping and agricultural financing.

The amendments to the US budget were approved 18 votes to 12 and would be a significant new step in the ongoing warming of ties between the United States and Cuba.

The two countries renewed diplomatic relations earlier this week, reopening embassies in their respective capitals.

The amendments would allow freer travel to and from Cuba and remove a legal requirement that a ship must wait six months before coming to the United State after docking in Cuba. Another would allow financing of agriculture sales.

The changes, if approved for the budget for the next fiscal year beginning in October, are incremental steps in creating normal relations between the countries that were at odds for a half-century.

The United States has already eased some travel restrictions, allowing trips to Cuba for specific trips, including travel for academic, cultural, sports or religious reasons.

America's economic embargo of the communist island nation and the US military facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Cuba deems illegal, are two major hurdles remaining between the countries. — AFP

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