Raul Castro says Cuba ready for talks with the US


Cuban President Raul Castro during an official visit to China on July 6, 2012.

Cuban President Raul Castro said today the “table is set” for talks with Cold War adversary the United States, so long as it was a conversation between equals.

Castro – the younger brother of better-known Fidel – said he was prepared to discuss any topic, including US beefs about democracy, human rights and freedom of the press on the Caribbean island, the Associated Press reported.

But the United States must be willing to hear Cuba’s complaints.

“Any day they want, the table is set. This has already been said through diplomatic channels," Castro said at the end of a Revolution Day ceremony in Guantanamo.

"If they want to talk, we will talk. We are nobody's colony, nobody's puppet.”

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Washington and Havana have not had diplomatic ties for more than half a century.

The United States maintains economic, commercial and trade embargoes against Cuba, which Havana claims have cost the country more than $975 billion dollars, Prensa Latina News Agency reported.

In his speech marking the 59th anniversary of the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks, which Cubans consider the beginning of Fidel Castro's revolution, Castro said Cubans were “peace-loving people,” government-run Radio Habana Cuba reported.

The country would continue to reform its “current economic and social model.”

“If they want confrontation, it must be in sports, preferably baseball, nothing else,” he told a crowd.