Ros-Lehtinen: No Time for 'Niceties' With Cuba After Weapons Discovery

Image: Ros-Lehtinen: No Time for 'Niceties' With Cuba After Weapons Discovery

Friday, 19 Jul 2013 04:38 PM

By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter

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Cuba should be sanctioned for the recent discovery of weapons on a freighter bound for North Korea — not rewarded with resumed migration talks with the Obama administration, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax TV.

"This is unbelievable that the very week it is uncovered that Cuba is violating a U.N. Security Council resolution, what does the United States do?” the Florida Republican asks Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "They reward the Castro regime by sitting down and talking about migration talks — and, in fact, they congratulate the Cuban regime for safe and orderly migration. This is unbelievable.



"Out of this case with the North Korean ship, the Obama administration might be congratulating the Cuban regime for a safe and orderly passage of transportation of arms to North Korea. Who knows? They're looking to reward the Castro regime for anything.

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"This is not the time for normal niceties," Ros-Lehtinen adds. "This is a time to get tough on our enemies. These guys are state sponsors of terrorism, and North Korea should be put back on that list of state sponsors of terrorism."

The United States and Cuba held migration talks on Wednesday, despite news that Panama had impounded a North Korean freighter earlier in the week carrying Cuban missile equipment.

The talks centered on such issues as how visas for immigrants are processed for people from Cuba, the Americas' only communist-ruled nation.

The United States grants Cubans immigrant visas.

But it also grants every Cuban who reaches U.S. soil permanent residency and the ability to work, something the United States does not do for nationals of any other country.

Cuba opposes this, saying it encourages dangerous illegal migration attempts in the shark-infested Florida Straits.

First elected in 1989, Ros-Lehtinen is the senior woman Republican in the House of Representatives. She was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and currently is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia.

She tells Newsmax that the discovery of Cuban weaponry on the North Korean ship trying to enter the Panama Canal should have prompted the U.S. to scrap the migration talks.

Cuba has said the weapons were obsolete missiles and spare parts from the last century, which were being sent to North Korea for repairs.

But diplomats have said that the shipment may have violated tough U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang aimed at curbing its nuclear-weapons program.

"As always, the Obama administration is late to the dance — and they're very weak and they're so ineffective," Ros-Lehtinen says. "Has [Secretary of State John] Kerry sent inspectors to Panama to look at it from the U.S.? No. Has Secretary Kerry asked the U.N. to take matters into their hands and send inspectors to Panama? No. Nothing has happened.

"If they thought that these were obsolete small arms, which is still a fabrication, why did they hide them under tons of sugar?" she adds. "They were hiding the cargo. These are enlisted arms. They're not obsolete and they were violating sanctions."

Turning her attention to other world hotspots, Ros-Lehtinen says the Obama administration should not become militarily involved in helping the Syrian rebels battle President Bashir al-Assad.

"Yes, it's a horrid situation. It's a humanitarian crisis, but there are a lot of countries in this world. We are one country. Why is it always up to the United States to take these tasks and then have these other countries say they'll help us and then, in the end, they don’t?

"What we should do is pressure countries like Russia," she adds. "Russia continues to send arms to Assad — and then Assad uses them to kill his own people. Let's use what leverage we have over Russia and tell them to stop that. And China, as well, is helping Russia aid the Syrian government.

"This is a dastardly regime that kills its own people. I don’t favor sending arms to the rebels, because these arms could end up in anyone's hands. We saw that in Libya. What happened in Benghazi? These are folks that we trusted with our security — and then four Americans end up being killed.

"It's time to stop giving arms to people we can't rely on 100 percent," Ros-Lehtinen says. "There's no military role for the United States. There's a role for other countries to get involved and help that situation."

Turning to economic aid in Egypt, Ros-Lehtinen believes the United States shouldn't be sending aid following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

"When Morsi took over, he promised a lot to the people of Egypt," Ros-Lehtinen begins. "He did not fulfill any promises and he harassed and intimidated Christians. He harassed and intimidated opposition and human-rights activists.

"We shouldn’t have sent aid when Morsi was in power. We certainly shouldn’t send it now, when we don’t know what's going to happen and what the next government is.

"But still, the Obama administration is pushing not millions, but billions of your dollars. The Obama plan is to send over $1 billion to Egypt when we don’t know who's ruling Egypt — and we don’t know who will be there tomorrow. It's a mistake. We should cut off aid."

And the White House is making yet another foreign-policy blunder by working to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax.

"The Israelis have always wanted peace. They want to negotiate, but they don’t have a true partner for peace. What we've seen is a corrupt Palestinian Authority government, where we don’t know where our tax dollars have gone. There's no transparency, there's no accountability.

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"It's up to the Palestinians to say: 'Yes, we want peace. We're going to negotiate with Israel,'" Ros-Lehtinen adds. "It is not up to the United States to further induce the Palestinians with our tax dollars to get them to negotiate to a peace treaty with Israel.

"And with all of the problems that are going on in the world, for the administration to keep sending Secretary Kerry there again and again while the world is just blowing up is wrongheaded and misguided."


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