The United States plans to ease restrictions on Cuba that will allow greater travel to the island by church and student groups, and permit Americans to send more cash, the White House said Friday, dpa reported.
Barack Obama's decision to ease the rules is designed to "reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their countrys future," the White House said.
Obama's new policy essentially reverses tougher restrictions enacted by his predecessor, George W Bush, who sought to further isolate the Cuban government by hardening travel sanctions and rules on cash remittances.
Obama first eased the rules in April 2009. The latest move, expected to go into effect within weeks, allows Americans to send up to 2,000 dollars annually to individual Cubans as long as they are not senior members of the government or communist party.
Greater travel will also be allowed for student and church groups to better promote cultural exchanges, the White House said. Limited travel by such groups is already permitted under existing regulations.