CLINTON: I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening.
Q: [to Obama]: Presumably you would be willing to meet?
A: Thatís correct. Now, keep in mind that the starting point for our policy in Cuba should be the liberty of the Cuban people. And I think we recognize that that liberty has not existed throughout the Castro regime. And we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the US & Cuba after over half a century. I would meet without preconditions, although Sen. Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda [including] human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time. But I do think that itís important for the US not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies. In fact, thatís where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.
A: As a show of good faith that weíre interested in pursuing a new relationship, Iíve called for a loosening of the restrictions on remittances from family members to Cuba, as well as travel restrictions for family members who want to visit their family members in Cuba. And I think that initiating that change in policy as a start could be useful, but I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some progress.
Q: But thatís different from your position back in 2003, when you called US policy toward Cuba a miserable failure.
A: I support the eventual normalization. And itís absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure. During my entire lifetime, Cuba has been isolated, but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms. So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization. But thatís going to happen in steps.
A: The people of Cuba deserve to have a democracy. And this gives the Cuban government, under Raul Castro, a chance to change direction from the one that was set for 50 years by his brother. Iím going to be looking for some of those changes: releasing political prisoner, ending some of the oppressive practices on the press, opening up the economy. Of course the US stands ready. And, as president, I would be ready to reach out and work with a new Cuban government, once it demonstrated that it truly was going to change that direction.
Q: Very simply, would you meet with Raul Castro or not?
A: I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening. A presidential visit should not be offered without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest, and in this case, in the interests of the Cuban people.
OBAMA: I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some progress [on the US agenda in Cuba]. But I do think that itís important for the US not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies.
CLINTON: I agree that we should be willing to have diplomatic negotiations and processes with anyone. Iíve been a strong advocate of opening up such a diplomatic process with Iran, for a number of years. Because I think we should look for ways that we can possibly move countries that are adversarial to us, toward the world community. Itís in our interests and in the interests of the people in countries that are oppressed, like Cuba, like Iran. But there has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting, without preconditions, with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations. And it should be part of a process, but I donít think it should be offered in the beginning
Q: Should the US have diplomatic relations with Vietnam?
Q: Should the US recognize and extend full diplomatic relations to Taiwan?
Q: Should the US continue funding for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty?
Q: Radio Marti & TV Marti?
Q: Radio Free Asia?
Q: Do you support the deployment of US troops to the former Yugoslavia?
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