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US Senator: Momentum Growing to Lift Sanctions on Cuba

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, arrives at a press conference in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, May 27, 2015.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall, arrives at a press conference in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

A U.S. lawmaker says there is growing support in Congress to lift the five-decade-old economic embargo against Cuba imposed by the United States.

Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico made the comment Wednesday in Havana.

Udall said both Democrats and Republicans have expressed support for several pieces of legislation related to Cuba, including lifting the travel ban and promoting limited economic activity in agriculture and technology.

President Barack Obama has called on the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo, which was imposed when Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro aligned with the former Soviet Union after ousting longtime dictator Fulgencio Bautista in 1959.

Udall led a delegation of four Democratic lawmakers to Havana, where they held talks with Cuban officials and private citizens. One of the lawmakers, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, said there is "a very small minority" in Congress "who have a strong objection" with lifting the embargo.

Representatives Raul Grijalva of Arizona and John Larson of Connecticut rounded out the delegation.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced last December the two countries were ready to restore normal diplomatic relations that were severed at the height of the Cold War. Negotiators from both sides met earlier this week to iron out the details of reopening their respective embassies in Washington and Havana. U.S. and Cuban officials reported progress on the issue but said there is still more work to do.

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