Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 11:46 UK

NY Philharmonic shelves Cuba trip

New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang
The New York Philharmonic performed in North Korea last year

New York's Philharmonic Orchestra has put off its first trip to Cuba after sponsors were barred from visiting the Communist-led country.

"The postponement is due to existing US government restrictions on travel to Cuba," it said in a statement.

The orchestra's backers are playing a pivotal role in making the two-concert trip to Havana possible, it added.

The Philharmonic made history last year when they performed a landmark concert in North Korea's capital Pyongyang.

Logistical problems

The visit was viewed as an unprecedented show of cultural diplomacy between the US and the reclusive state, which have endured frosty relations for decades.

Havana was due to host two concerts by the orchestra at the end of next month.

It said that its plans received the support of President Barack Obama's administration.

But long-standing restrictions on the travel of US citizens to Cuba caused logistical problems.

According to a Philharmonic spokesman, US authorities said no travel permit category existed for them to travel under.

Some 150 patrons and supporters of the orchestra had pledged to pay $10,000 (£6,295) each to go on the trip to the Caribbean island.

Organisers have said they will attempt to visit Cuba at a later date.

A US trade embargo has been enforced against the island since 1962.

President Obama has eased travel restrictions for Cuban Americans but has said the embargo will not be lifted until democratic reforms take place.

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