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AP's Matt Lee to State Dept's Psaki: "So The Cubans Don't Have To Actually Do Anything?"

MATT LEE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, the problem that I’m having with this, though, is that you say that the last 50 years of policy has been broken because it didn’t do anything. But then you announce that it’s changed, and within a week or two weeks of the announcement that you’re going to change your – fundamentally change, alter the relationship that you’ve had with Cuba, not only can you not confirm that the 53 people that they said they would – the political prisoners – said that they would release, you can’t confirm that they have been released; but one of the very first things the Cubans do afterwards is continue to arrest dissidents. So if the policy was broken for 50 years, the change in policy doesn’t seem to have fixed it.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, Matt, our view was never that the changes would take place and be implemented with a matter – in a matter of weeks. This has, as you noted, been decades of a broken policy.

QUESTION: Yeah. But --

MS. PSAKI: It’s going to take a long time to change it.

QUESTION: Okay, all right. So is the release of the 53 confirmable publicly from you a prerequisite for Assistant Secretary Jacobson going down there and having these talks to start normalization?

MS. PSAKI: A prerequisite? No, this is a --

QUESTION: So the Cubans don’t have to actually --

MS. PSAKI: These are --

QUESTION: -- do anything?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, no. This is something they have agreed to. I would point you to them for any updates on the number of people or if people have been released. There are migration talks that have been scheduled for some time. Obviously, this is a different, a unique – or not unique, but a different set of circumstances given the announcements in December.

QUESTION: Well, I’m sure that these prisoners would like to migrate out of their jail cells, right? So is that not – the Cubans don’t actually have to follow through on their promise to release the 53 in order for the --

MS. PSAKI: That’s part of what was agreed to, Matt. I don’t have any other announcements on that front to make. Anything more on Cuba?


MS. PSAKI: Cuba?

QUESTION: On the dissidents who were arrested, re-arrested --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Arrested, temporarily detained, and then arrested again.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: At what level did the U.S. raise this with the Cuban Government?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on that. I can see if there’s more we have to offer.

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