Pres­i­dent Cas­tro brands Trump pol­icy ‘a set­back’ for re­la­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

HAVANA — Cuban Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro has rat­i­fied his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s will­ing­ness to con­tinue en­gage­ment with the United States de­spite a set­back in re­la­tions between the two coun­tries.

At the clos­ing of the par­lia­ment’s ple­nary ses­sion, Cas­tro vowed to push for­ward ne­go­ti­a­tions on pend­ing bi­lat­eral is­sues “on the ba­sis of equal­ity and the re­spect for sovereignty and in­de­pen­dence”.

“Cuba and the United States can co­op­er­ate and co­ex­ist by re­spect­ing their dif­fer­ences and pro­mot­ing ev­ery­thing that ben­e­fits their peo­ples,” Cas­tro said, re­fer­ring to the change of US pol­icy to­ward Cuba — an­nounced by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last month — as a “set­back in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions”.

Cas­tro’s com­ments to Cuba’s Na­tional Assem­bly were his first on Trump’s an­nounce­ment of a par­tial roll­back of the Cuba-US de­tente achieved by then­pres­i­dent Barack Obama. They con­tained echoes of the harsh rhetoric of the past.

“Any strat­egy that seeks to de­stroy the revo­lu­tion ei­ther through co­er­cion or pres­sure or through more sub­tle meth­ods will fail,” Cas­tro said.

He also re­jected any “les­sons” on hu­man rights from the US, say­ing his coun­try “has a lot to be proud about” on the is­sue.

Cas­tro said that Trump’s de­ci­sions ig­nored large sec­tors of the US and most Cuban em­i­grants in sup­port of lift­ing the em­bargo and nor­mal­iz­ing bi­lat­eral ties, and merely sat­is­fied a small group in Florida.

Cas­tro re­called the pre­vi­ous US ad­min­is­tra­tion of 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 civ­i­lized way de­spite our pro­found dif­fer­ences,” Cas­tro said.

“We re­ject the ma­nip­u­la­tion of the hu­man rights is­sues over Cuba. Our coun­try has many achieve­ments to be proud of, and we do not need to take les­sons from the US or any­body else.”

He added: “Cuba will not make con­ces­sions con­cern­ing its sovereignty and in­de­pen­dence, nor ne­go­ti­ate its prin­ci­ples.”

For­mal ties between Cuba and the US broke off in March 1961 dur­ing the Cold War and were re­sumed in July 2015 af­ter more than a year of se­cret ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The na­tions had agreed to co­op­er­ate in ar­eas such as drug and hu­man traf­fick­ing and the en­vi­ron­ment.

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