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Kaine: U.S., Cuba should discuss human rights

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@PatriciaMazzei

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine said Monday that the U.S. should seek some sort of human-rights agreement with Cuba, as both nations continue to expand their diplomatic relationship.

Speaking in Spanish to Colombia-based radio network W Radio, Kaine praised President Obama's renewal of U.S.-Cuba ties -- he and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are "big supporters" -- but acknowledged differences remain between the two countries.

"There are still issues between the United States and Cuba, and we should talk and seek an agreement on human-rights, issues, for example," he said. "But we need to have a relationship with Cuba, like with other nations. Diplomatic relations aren't a sign that everything's perfect, but it's a channel for dialogue, and I'm really glad that the relationship between the United States and Cuba is in a new chapter. This relationship has already opened doors in the Americas with other countries, I think in a good way for the United States -- and for Cuba, too."

The interview, taped while Kaine was in Los Angeles, lasted about 10 minutes. According to Caracol, in additional to airing in Colombia and South Florida, the interview got play in Panama, Venezuela, Spain, and the New York area.

Asked about the importance of Florida's Hispanic vote, Kaine noted Latinos can affect election results in other states, too. His home state of Virginia has 300,000 eligible Hispanic votes in an electorate of about 4 million, he said.

"The Latino vote in Florida can always make a difference, because Florida is a battleground state and many campaigns are very tight in Florida," he said, without referring to Clinton's own poll numbers against Republican Donald Trump. Some surveys suggest Florida may be the tightest swing state in the country.

Kaine lamented Trump's way of speaking about immigrants.

"It's something that Trump is creating, against immigration reform, offering ill-willed words against immigrants, fighting against President Obama's executive actions," Kaine said, highlighting Clinton's 2006 support for reform in the Senate, and his own Spanish-language Senate floor speech in 2013. In her first 100 days in office, Kaine said Clinton would tackle growing the economy, reforming immigration and overhauling campaign finance.

Elsewhere in the interview, Kaine backed the Colombian peace talks and said the U.S. should be supportive of ongoing efforts to create a new governing coalition in Spain.

An earlier version of this post misstated the name of the radio network that interviewed Kaine. It is W Radio, not Caracol.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

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