Biden: No Plans To Lift Cuba Embargo

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, right, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, left, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden pose for the official photo of the Progressive Governance Leaders Summit in Vina del Mar, Chile, Saturday, March 28, 2009.
AP Photo/Roberto Candia
U.S. Vice President Joe 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 Barack 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 the Washington 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, saying such a step would improve Washington's relations where the entire region.

Obama said during the presidential campaign that 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.

Also attending Saturday's summit in the resort city of Vina del Mar were British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Brazilan President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

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.

Biden said the protests "give us the chance to respond with concrete proposals."

He told a closing news conference that the leaders shared common views of promoting "transparency and accountability" in international financial institutions.

Thousands of people marched through European cities Saturday demanding jobs and economic justice ahead of Thursday's summit of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing economies.