Cuba asks to re-open negotiations with United States

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Saturday, December 2, 2006

Raul Castro, the brother of Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro and Cuba's defense minister, has asked that negotiations be reopened with the United States as long as the U.S. "accepts that we Cuba are a country." Raul took over the country's leadership after Fidel became ill in July.

"Let me take this opportunity to express our willingness to settle the long US-Cuba disagreement at the negotiating table. Of course, that is, as long as they accept that we are a country that does not tolerate any reduction of its independence, and based on the principles of equality, reciprocity, non interference and mutual respect," said Castro during a military parade in Cuba honoring Fidel's 80th birthday, which he failed to attend.

"Until that happens, after almost half a century, we are prepared to wait patiently for the moment when common sense takes root in the halls of power in Washington," stated Castro.

The U.S. has said that they would like to see a "democratic change" and that a "Castro dynasty" is "certainly not a solution that we think is viable," said a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Tom Casey.

"We think the Cuban people need to be given the opportunity to see and have democratic change. We believe that is what the Cuban people would like to have. The creation of some sort of Castro dynasty simply by transferring power to Raul Castro and having him continue to operate the same undemocratic, repressive policies as his brother is certainly not a solution that we think is viable," said Casey who also stated that the U.S. "is ready to help."

Raul was given the position of Cuba's leader on July 31, 2006.

The U.S. has not had any dialogue with Cuba and has had a trade embargo imposed on the country since 1962.