U.S. agency denies exemptions for Cuba cargo relief flights - statement
By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department said on Wednesday it is denying exemptions for two charter flight companies to deliver humanitarian cargo to Cuba, the latest crackdown by the Trump administration.
Two U.S. companies had applied to deliver cargo flights to ship small or personal parcels containing food, medicine, hygiene and medical supplies, arguing the deliveries were humanitarian in nature.
The Transportation Department said the State Department determined the flights did not fall within exemption guidelines and said they "would not be in the foreign policy interests of the United States."
The administration effective Oct. 13 suspended the authority of U.S. and foreign carriers to operate Cuban-U.S. charter flights.
One U.S. operator, Skyway, argued the flights should be permitted to address coronavirus pandemic impacts, including significant shortages of food and medical supplies for Cubans, leading residents to grow their own food and shop at government-run stores with exorbitant prices.
The Transportation Department suspended private charter flights to Cuba to increase American economic pressure on the Cuban government after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought the suspension.
"The Castro regime uses tourism and travel funds to finance its abuses and interference in Venezuela. Dictators cannot be allowed to benefit from U.S. travel," Pompeo said in August.
Trump, a Republican, has clamped down on Cuba following the historic move by Democratic predecessor Barack Obama to reopen U.S.-Cuba ties.
The Trump administration tightened restrictions on U.S. travel and remittances to Cuba and sanctioned shipments of Venezuelan oil to the island.
The administration also made it harder for Cubans to visit family in Florida by reducing its Havana embassy to skeletal staffing and shutting down the consular section in the wake of mysterious illnesses among its diplomats.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden said during the campaign for the White House that he would promptly reverse policies on Cuba enacted by Trump that “have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.