The White House announced on Tuesday that it would send two senior administration officials to attend the memorial service for deceased Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the top U.S. diplomat to Cuba, will attend the service, ABC News reported.
"The president has decided not to send a presidential delegation to attend the memorial service today," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the top U.S. diplomat to Cuba, will attend the service.
"Those of you who have been following this story closely over the last couple of years know that Mr. Rhodes has played a leading role in crafting the normalization policy that President Obama announced about two years ago," Earnest said. "He has been the principal interlocutor with the Cuban government from the White House in crafting this policy and implementing it successfully."
Earnest said that Rhodes was already planning to travel to Cuba this week, so in addition to the meetings with Cuban government officials and with officials at the U.S. Embassy that he had on his schedule, he will attend the memorial service.
The administration stated that the two officials are not being sent as part of an official presidential delegation.
Earnest told reporters that the administration decided not to send a presidential delegation because "so much of the U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba is quite complicated."
Earnest suggested that the administration did not find it appropriate to send a presidential delegation to the memorial service given Castro's many human rights abuses, which continue to this day.
Castro's state funeral will be held on Sunday.