WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States does not anticipate giving up its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite Wednesday’s historic agreement by the former Cold War enemies to restore diplomatic ties, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to soon reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, a move Obama acknowledged might have seemed impossible only a year ago.
But to have normal overall relations, Cuba’s Communist government said the United States must take steps including surrendering the naval base it has leased since 1903. Cuba wants the 45 square miles (116 square km) restored as its sovereign territory.
Asked whether he could envision a day when the United States might give up the base, Carter told a Pentagon news conference there was “no anticipation and no plan, with respect to the Guantanamo Bay naval station in Cuba.”
Cuba’s government also said the United States must rescind its comprehensive economic embargo of Cuba for the two countries to have normal relations. Obama, a Democrat, has asked the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the 53-year-old embargo, but the conservative leadership in Congress has resisted.
Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn