Raul Castro calls Obama ‘a good man’, wishes him luck

January 22nd, 2009 - 7:58 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaHavana, Jan 22 (IANS) Cuba’s President Raul Castro Wednesday said US President Barack Obama “seems to be a good man” and offered him best of luck, EFE news agency reported.”He seems like a good man, I wish him luck,” Castro told reporters while visiting Havana’s Latin American School of Medicine with Argentine leader Cristina Fernandez.

His comments came almost a day after Cuba’s National Assembly Speaker Ricardo Alarco praised Obama’s inaugural address.

“I think it’s very interesting. First, he is a great orator; very well done (the speech), very well expressed and it should be read with interest,” Alarcon told journalists Tuesday.

He, however, stressed that it remained to be seen whether the new occupant of the White House will change Washington’s policy toward the communist-ruled island.

Asked what the Cuban government expects from Obama, Alarcon said that the new US leader’s intentions remained “a big question mark”.

Raul Castro, who formally succeeded ailing older brother Fidel as Cuba’s president in February 2008, has said more than once that he is prepared to meet with Obama.

Castro says he wants to end the decades-long chill between Havana and Washington, but insists that Cuba will not submit to “carrot and stick” manipulation.

While the new American president did not mention Cuba - or any other foreign nation - in Tuesday’s speech, he said during the election campaign that he would roll back draconian restrictions the Bush administration imposed on Cuban-Americans’ travel and remittances to the island.

At the same time, Obama said he would not consider ending the 46-year-old economic embargo against the island until the Cuban government agrees to free political prisoners and implement democratic reforms.

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