UPDATE 1-Carnival expects Cuba to allow Cuban-Americans on inaugural cruise
(Adds State Department comment)
HAVANA, April 15 (Reuters) - Cruise company Carnival Corporation believes Cuba will soon modify rules that bar Cuban-Americans from travelling on its planned cruises to the island, the company said on Friday, after pressure mounted for the trip to be postponed.
Carnival is due to become the first U.S. cruise company to sail directly to Cuba in more than half a century on May 1, but the exclusion of Cuban-Americans has prompted a lawsuit against the company and protests in Miami.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that Carnival "needs to not discriminate" and called on Cuba to change the policy.
A State Department official later said Kerry "in no way meant to convey that Carnival is supporting policies that are discriminating against Cuban American travelers."
Asked whether Carnival was considering cancelling the trip, spokesman Roger Frizzell said the company was confident Cuba would change its rules before the sailing date.
"We continue to believe that Cuba will modify its regulation before we sail on May 1 based on our ongoing discussions with Cuban officials," Frizzell said, citing rules that allow Cuban-Americans to visit Cuba by air as an example.
Cuban-born Americans cannot visit the island by sea, due to a Cuban law that dates to the Cold War era, and therefore are barred from joining in Carnival's sailing to the island. (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Mary Milliken)
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