As Summit of the Americas nears, focus is on U.S.–Cuba travel policy

The White House advisor to the upcoming Summit of the Americas on Monday confirmed President Barack Obama's intention to ease family travel and remittances to Cuba in coming days and wouldn't rule out a meeting between Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Even as he acknowledged the widespread interest in Cuba and increased pressure to fully lift the U.S. economic embargo, advisor Jeffrey S. Davidow stressed the administration's hope the communist–ruled nation would not dominate next week's gathering of the 34 hemispheric leaders.

"In a way, we believe it would be unfortunate if the principal theme of this meeting turned out to be Cuba," Davidow said.

"I think there are a lot of very important issues that warrant discussion, whether it's economic issues, social inclusion, environment or public safety."

Pressed on whether Washington might go beyond its already stated intent to lift travel restrictions for Cuban Americans, Davidow said U.S. policy toward Cuba is undergoing strategic review.

"We are engaged in a continual evaluation of our policy and how that policy could help result in a change in Cuba that would bring about a democratic society," said Davidow, a former ambassador to both Mexico and Venezuela.

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