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Barbados Gives U.S. Advice On Cuba Relaxing Policy Could Force Change, Prime Minister Suggests

The prime minister of Barbados is urging the United States to relax its policy toward Cuba, saying that could help the communist country open up to investment and “face pragmatism.”

Owen Arthur suggested the United States pursue a policy of “constructive engagement” with Cuba, the Barbadian government said in a statement Tuesday.

“Cuba could change with this type of engagement,” Arthur was quoted as saying. “The fact that investment is taking place in Cuba is evidence of a desire to face pragmatism.”

Arthur asked outgoing U.S. Ambassador Jeanette Hyde to convey his message to President Clinton.

Hyde, who has just completed a four-year assignment as ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean, told Arthur she was confident that Cuba will become part of the “democratic family” of the hemisphere, the statement said.

During Hyde’s watch, Caribbean nations have drastically expanded trade with Cuba and are considering including the island in a planned Caribbean free trade zone.

Several Caribbean leaders visited Cuba over the past year, and others - including Barbados - have sent large trade delegations, marking an end to decades of icy relations with Fidel Castro’s government.