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Roberta Jacobson On MSNBC: 'It's About Empowering Cuban People'

Image: CUBA-US-DIPLOMACY-HISTORIC-TALKS
US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta S. Jacobson -- the most senior American official in Havana since 1980 -- speaks during a press conference at the Convention Palace in Havana, on the second day of closed-door talks between Cuba and the United State, on January 22, 2015. YAMIL LAGE / AFP - Getty Images

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who headed the U.S. negotiations with Cuba last week said Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC's "The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart" that the administration's policy change is "designed to ensure that we can also empower the Cuban people."

When asked by Díaz-Balart about criticism that Cuba was getting much of what it has been asking for - the freeing of Cuban spies, greater access to credit, being taken out of the state-sponsors of terrorism list and a possible lifting of the embargo - Jacobson said that wasn't the case.

"For one thing, what the President announced were things that were in our interest - diplomatic relations are never a gift, they're a relationship," she said. Jacobson said lifting the embargo would require an act of Congress, and said the administration is still reviewing taking Cuba off the terrorism list.

When asked about American fugitives living in Cuba, Jacobson said the issue was a "critical part" of the conversation, and said the two countries have cooperated in the past on a case-by-case basis.

You can see the interview here.

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