Washington: The US on Tuesday welcomed the release of 53 political prisoners in the past 48 hours in Cuba as part of moves to normalise ties between the two countries.
"I can confirm that the Cuban government has notified the Obama administration that they have completed the release of the 53 political prisoners that they had committed to free," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
"We welcome this positive development and are pleased that the Cuban government followed through on this commitment that they made not just to the United States but also to the Vatican," Earnest said.
"These political prisoners were individuals who'd been cited by various human rights organisations as being imprisoned by the Cuban government for exercising internationally protected freedoms or for their promotion of political and social reforms in Cuba," he said, adding the list was compiled by the Obama Administration and produced to the Castro regime.
Ultimately, it was an independent decision by the Cuban government to release them.
"It is an indication that they are, at least so far, living up to the terms of the agreement that was announced by the president about a month or so ago," he said.
"There are other individuals who are being unjustly detained in Cuban prisons, and we're going to continue to advocate and push for the Castro regime to make the basic decision that reflects basic human rights to release those individuals as well," he said.
A top American lawmakers welcomed the release of the 53 political prisoners, but said this is not enough.
"While I welcome the news that Cuba has released these 53 political prisoners, and that the Administration has shared the list of names it negotiated with the Castro Regime this entire process has been shrouded in secrecy," said Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The release of 53 political prisoners doesn't mean there are no longer political prisoners in Cuba, he said adding that human rights groups had stated that there were over 100 long term political prisoners in the country.
And, there were 8,900 to be exact 8,889 political detentions in Cuba last year, an appalling number, he said.