Cuba willing to engage with US despite setback in relations, says Raul Castro

Havana: Cuban President Raul Castro has ratified his administration's willingness to continue engagement with the US despite a setback in relations between the two countries.

At the closing of the parliament's plenary session in its 8th Legislature on Friday, Castro expressed the island's desire to push forward negotiations on pending bilateral issues "on the basis of equality and the respect for sovereignty and independence", reports Xinhua news agency.

"Cuba and the US can cooperate and coexist by respecting their differences and promoting everything that benefits their peoples," Castro said, referring to the change of American policy towards Cuba — announced by President Donald Trump on 16 June — as a "setback in bilateral relations".

File photo of Raul Castro. Reuters

File photo of Raul Castro. Reuters

Castro said that Trump's decisions ignored large sectors of the US and most Cuban emigrants in support of lifting the embargo and normalising bilateral ties, and merely satisfied a small group in Florida. He recalled the previous US administration of Barack Obama, who restored the diplomatic ties with Havana and made progress on issues of mutual interest "on the basis of bilateral respect".

"We demonstrated that it is possible to live in a civilised way despite our profound differences," the Cuban leader told members of parliament gathered for an ordinary session at the Havana Convention Centre. "Cuba will not make concessions concerning to its sovereignty and independence, nor negotiate its principles," Castro added.

Formal ties between Cuba and the US broke off in March 1961 due to ideological differences during the Cold War, and were resumed in July 2015 after more than a year of secret negotiations by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.

Since then the two nations agreed to cooperate in such areas as combating drug and human trafficking, transportation and protecting the environment.

Trump proclaimed during his presidential campaign that if he were elected he would roll back ties with Cuba due to human rights concerns and seek "a better deal with its government".

He fulfilled his promise in June by signing a set of measures in Miami that limit American business opportunities and travels on the island.

Updated Date: Jul 15, 2017 11:12 AM

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