Kerry cancels visit to Cuba

US Secretary of State John Kerry cancels trip to Cuba amid concerns over Cuban government's human rights record

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the FY2017 State Department Budget Request on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 23, 2016.

Tentative plans for US Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Cuba before mid-March for a human rights dialogue have been cancelled, two US officials said on Thursday, amid concerns over the Cuban government's human rights record.

Kerry told a congressional hearing on Feb. 23 that he might be in Cuba "in the next week or two" for the purpose of having a dialogue on human rights.

The visit was planned ahead of President Barack Obama's scheduled trip to the island on March 21-22.

The sources said that the trip had been cancelled because US and Cuban officials were deep in negotiations on issues including, which dissidents Obama might see in Havana and that a trip in the timeframe Kerry had mentioned was not seen as constructive.

State Department spokesman, John Kirby, said that he had no updates regarding Kerry's potential travel to Cuba.

"The Secretary is still interested in visiting in the near future, and we are working with our Cuban counterparts and our embassy to determine the best timeframe," Kirby said in an e-mail statement.

US critics of Obama's opening to Cuba have complained that the president has received little in return for restoring diplomatic relations with the former Cold War foe.

On Feb. 24, the Cuban government granted seven dissidents who were out of prison on parole a one-time permission to travel outside the country in an apparent gesture to the United States ahead of Obama's historic visit.

TRTWorld, Reuters