US eases travel, trade rules for Cuba; Lew hopes changes spur democratic, economic reforms

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The U.S. has issued new regulations to ease travel and trade opportunities in Cuba for U.S. citizens.

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The Treasury and Commerce Departments say the rules go into effect Sept. 21, simplifying procedures for tourism, telephone and Internet business and money transfers to the island.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Friday that the U.S. is helping Cuban citizens "achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba."

The Associated Press first reported the changes Thursday.

Hoping to transform their new diplomatic relationship, an official told the AP that the former Cold War foes also should resume direct postal service later this year and clinch an agreement for regularly scheduled commercial flights. There has been no U.S.-Cuban mail link since 1963.