ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman who has long advocated for changes to the United States’ Cuba policy says a decision to normalize relations with the island country is a “monumental step” in the right direction.

Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan praised Wednesday’s announcement that the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic ties to Cuba. Nolan traveled to Cuba in 1977 during his first stint in Congress and was involved in a past deal to release U.S. prisoners held there.

Nolan says he hopes to travel to Cuba next year to meet with officials there.

Another Democratic member of the Minnesota delegation, Betty McCollum, described the announcement as “a new beginning.” She says she would continue working to end a U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. McCollum spent time in Cuba last summer.

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann panned the move, telling Minnesota Public Radio that the U.S. shouldn’t have changed its policy until Cuba changed its ways.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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