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Thursday December 14th, 2017 5:14AM

The Latest: GOP senator says Cuba policy bad for farmers

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's new Cuba policy (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, says President Donald Trump's new Cuba policy closes off a potentially lucrative market for American farmers.

In a statement Friday, Moran says "putting America first means exporting what we produce to countries across the globe." He says he remains focused on finding ways to "increase trade with Cuba rather than cut off relationships that have the potential to create new jobs, bring in revenue and boost our national economy."

Moran, whose state has almost 46 million acres devoted to farm operations, has backed legislation to restore trade with Cuba. He's also a co-sponsor of legislation that would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.

___

2:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has demanded that Cuba return a woman convicted in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Trump made the demand for the return of Joanne Chesimard while announcing changes to Obama-era Cuba policy in Miami Friday.

Chesimard was convicted in 1977 in the death of Trooper Werner Foerster. He was killed during a gunfight after a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.

Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison but escaped in November 1979 and eventually traveled to Cuba. Fidel Castro granted her asylum and she has been living under the name Assata Shakur.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has urged the Trump administration to make Chesimard's return to the United States part of any change in Cuba policy.

___

2:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has announced a series of changes to the Obama-era Cuba policy and is challenging the Cuban government to negotiate a better deal.

Trump says in a speech in Miami that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban people's right to freedom of assembly and expression.

Trump is also calling for the legalization of all political parties, and free and internationally supervised elections.

The president says his new policy will also restrict the flow of American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of the government led by Raul Castro.

He has challenged Cuba to "come to the table" to strike a deal that serves both country's interests.

___

1:49 p.m.

Sen. Jeff Flake is criticizing President Donald Trump's new policy on Cuba.

The Arizona Republican says any policy change "that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people."

Flake, a frequent critic of Trump during the presidential campaign, has been among the most outspoken lawmakers opposed to rolling back the Obama-era detente with Havana. Flake has warned that returning to a "get tough" policy that isolates the island would hurt everyday Cubans whose livelihoods are increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.

He's calling on the Senate's GOP leadership to allow a vote on his legislation that would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents. The bill has 54 co-sponsors.

11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says his administration's new policy on Cuba aims to "empower" the citizens of that country.

The president tweeted while en route to Miami, where he'll announce his plans for halting the flow of U.S. cash to Cuba's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations.

The tweet reads, "Headed to Miami to announce new U.S. policy on Cuba. We are going to empower the Cuban people and hold the regime accountable!"

The new policy is only a partial reversal from that of the Obama administration.

But they will burden the U.S. government with the complicated task of policing Americans' travel to Cuba to make sure there are no transactions with the military-linked conglomerate that runs much of the Cuban economy.

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