White House press secretary Josh Earnest refused to rule out a visit by Cuban President Raúl Castro to Washington, noting that leaders from other countries with spotty human rights records have already met with President Obama in D.C.
After Wednesday’s surprise announcement that the administration would seek to “normalize” relations with the embargoed Caribbean nation, Earnest said President Obama is open to visiting Cuba in the future.
And on Thursday, the press secretary made clear that the White House is also considering playing host to the aging Communist revolutionary.
“The analogy that we’ve tried to draw — or at least identify — is that there are important national security reasons for the president to travel to other countries that have what we would describe, at best, as having checkered human rights records,” Earnest said, referring to recent state visits to China and Burma.
“Having an open relationship, in which the president engages with the leaders of other countries, can actually serve as a useful way to shine a spotlight on the shortcomings of other countries’ records as it relates to human rights,” he continued.
“So I guess the point is, that the president has had the leaders of both Burma and China to the United States,” Earnest concluded. “And for that reason, I wouldn’t rule out a visit from President Castro.”