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Bush Launches New Criticism of Cuban Government

U.S. President George Bush has accused Cuba's government of responding to U.S. appeals for democratic reform with more repression of its people.

Mr. Bush commented Tuesday in a message to the Cuban people, one week before he hands power to his successor, President-elect Barack Obama.

The president said his message is directed especially at those who have made pleas for freedom only to be silenced by tyranny and oppression.

He said as long as there are people who fight for liberty, the United States will stand with them and speak out for those whose voices have been temporarily silenced.

Later, the U.S. secretary of state-designate, Senator Hillary Clinton, said she hoped Cuba's government would seize the chance to change and look at freeing political prisoners and open up the country's economy. Clinton made the remark at her Senate confirmation hearing.

A U.S. embargo against Cuba has been in place since the early 1960s. Cuba likens the embargo to a genocide.

Mr. Bush has said previously that the policies in place are aimed at giving the Cuban people a chance to express themselves freely without fear of repression.

Cuban President Raul Castro has said he is open to talks with President-elect Obama. Mr. Obama says he would be willing to speak with Cuba's leaders. Mr. Obama, however, says he will keep the embargo in place as a way to push for democratic change in Cuba.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.