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Originally published Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Biden: No halt to Cuba embargo

Vice President Joseph Biden said Saturday that the United States is not planning to lift its embargo on Cuba.

The Associated Press

VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Vice President Joseph Biden said Saturday that the United States is not planning to lift its embargo on Cuba.

When asked by reporters at a summit in Chile if Washington plans to scrap the decades-old embargo, Biden replied: "No."

He and President Obama "think that Cuban people should determine their own fate and they should be able to live in freedom," Biden said after taking part in the Progressive Governance Summit of leaders from Latin America, Europe and the U.S.

A "transition" is needed in U.S. policy toward the communist-ruled island, but the U.S. vice president said he was in Chile "to talk about the economy, not Cuba."

Leftist or left-of-center governments have been elected in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Honduras and Uruguay in recent years, and at least five Latin American leaders have visited Cuba this year. Several of these governments have urged Washington to lift the embargo to improve U.S. relations in the entire region.

Obama has said he would be willing to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro without preconditions and supported loosening restrictions on U.S. family travel and remittances to the island. But he does not favor lifting the 47-year-old embargo entirely.

Leaders closed the summit Saturday with a promise to respond to protests against the G20 summit in London next week with measures to revitalize the world economy.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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