Cuba's Castro Lauds US Outreach But Demands End of Embargo
by VOA News September 26, 2015
Cuban President Raul Castro is praising the Obama administration's push to re-establish ties with Havana, saying the new U.S. policies 'constitute an important advancement that has wide support from the international community.'
But the Cuban leader, in a speech Saturday to the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Summit, also warned the continued U.S. trade embargo of his homeland was still inflicting 'damages and hardships on the Cuban people.'
He described the embargo as 'the main obstacle to our country's economic development,' and said it hurt other nations and the interests of American citizens and companies.
Castro spoke as part of a U.N. initiative involving most of the world's governments, whose delegates are gathered in New York to formulate and endorse global goals for fighting poverty, inequality and climate change. The gathering is widely seen as the most comprehensive U.N. effort ever to confront the world's persistent hardships.
In May, Washington and Havana agreed to exchange ambassadors, just weeks before the communist government was removed from the U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.
Castro said at that time that restoring full U.S.-Cuban relations could take place only after Washington lifted the trade embargo, which was imposed in 1962 – three years after communists seized power in Cuba.
Castro also said Washington must hand back sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay, where the United States maintains a naval base.
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