WASHINGTON – If the Bush administration allows former President Carter to travel to Cuba this year, it wants him to push for human rights, a White House spokesman said.
The Treasury Department, which issues permits for travel to Cuba, is weighing a request from Carter, who was invited to visit by Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Carter said Friday he expects the Bush administration's "tacit approval, not their blessing." He wants to talk about expanding trade and tourism, he said.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that if the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control grants him permission to go, President Bush will ask Carter to carry a "very direct, straightforward message" to Castro.
"In order to have human rights in Cuba, it's important for Fidel Castro to allow democracy to take root, to stop repression, to stop imprisonments, to bring freedom to the people of Cuba," Fleischer said.
The United States and Cuba have not had regular relations since Castro took office in 1959 following a Marxist revolution there. In recent years, Congress has approved some travel for humanitarian and educaitonal purposes.
Applicants seeking to go must write a letter and provide information, details and documentation about the trip.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.