Lula confident Obama will further ease Cuba embargo

Presidents of Chile Michelle Bachelet, Argentina Cristina Fernandez, the Barack Obama and Brazil Inacio Lula da Silva (L-R) talk before the opening ceremony of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain April 17, 2009. REUTERS/Handout/Presidencia

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Monday he believed U.S. President Barack Obama would further dismantle a 47-year-old trade embargo against Communist Cuba.

“I know there are cultural and political problems. It’s not easy to overcome conservative sectors in each country, but I think Obama will tend to advance and understand there is no more need for an embargo against Cuba,” the former union leader said on his weekly radio address.

U.S.-Cuban ties dominated the three-day Summit of the Americas that ended in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday.

Last week Obama eased parts of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, but most of the Latin American and Caribbean leaders at the summit wanted it scrapped.

At the summit, Obama said he was open to discussing with Havana issues ranging from human rights to the economy, but that he wanted to see political reforms in Cuba.

Lula, one of the region’s moderate leaders, said Obama was a welcome change from previous U.S. governments and that Latin American countries saw his presidency as a chance for a more “productive” partnership with Washington.

The United States and Latin America began a new chapter in their relationship at the summit, he said.

“We staked out a new type of relationship ... especially between Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States,” Lula said on his show “Breakfast with the President.”

Reporting by Raymond Colitt; editing by Stuart Grudgings and Stacey Joyce