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Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

New US law eases Cuba sanctions

Barack Obama, undated file pic
Obama has indicated he would be open to dialogue with Cuba's leaders

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a government spending bill that will ease some of Washington's economic sanctions on Cuba.

He said the bill was imperfect because Congressmen had added pet projects to the $410bn package that will fund government spending until September.

Cuban-Americans will be allowed to travel to the island once a year and send more money to relatives there.

Curbs on sending medicines and food have also been eased.

The legislation was earlier approved by the Senate after clearing the House of Representatives last month.

The legislation overturns rules imposed by the Bush administration which limited travel to just two weeks every three years, and confined visits to immediate family members.

President Obama has indicated he would be open to dialogue with Cuba's leaders.

But he has said that, like previous American presidents, he will only consider a full lifting of the embargo once Cuba's communist government makes significant moves such as the holding of democratic elections.

Cuba's President Raul Castro has said he is prepared to negotiate with the new US administration, providing there are no preconditions.

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