The Cuban government has agreed to let the U.S. military use restricted Cuban air space for medical evacuation flights carrying Haitian earthquake victims, sharply reducing the flight time to Miami, a U.S. official said on Friday.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said a deal had been reached allowing evacuation flights from the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to pass over the communist-ruled island on the way to Florida. The deal would shorten the flight time by 90 minutes on trips that normally are routed around Cuba.
U.S. military disaster relief teams in Haiti have been taking injured quake survivors to Guantanamo for treatment. Some victims are being sent from Guantanamo to south Florida for further treatment.
U.S. President Barack Obama since taking office in January has sought to soften the hard-line approach his predecessor, George W. Bush, took toward Cuba. The Obama administration last year eased restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting and sending cash to relatives in Cuba.
Mr. Obama has made clear the long-standing U.S. economic embargo on Cuba will remain until the Cuban government implements Democratic reforms.Report Typo/Error
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