Cuba ready for talks with US, says Castro

April 18th, 2009 - 2:19 am ICT by IANS  

Cumana (Venezuela), April 18 (EFE) Cuban President Raul Castro has said he is ready to discuss any issue including democracy and human rights with the US as long as talks are held based on mutual respect.
“We have communicated to the US government in private and in public that we can discuss everything,” Castro said at a meeting of Latin American leaders here Thursday.

Castro earlier offered to free the political prisoners lodged in Cuban jails, if the US releases five Cuban spies held in that country.

“If they want the dissidents (political prisoners), we’ll send them tomorrow with their families, but let them return our five heroes to us,” Castro said.

Havana had sent the five agents to South Florida to spy on the exile Cuban community there. The spy operation followed several terrorist bombings on the communist island that were allegedly masterminded by the Miami-based anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles.

Castro said any dialogue with the US must be based on equality and mutual respect.

The US administration recently lifted the restrictions on Cuban Americans’ travel and remittances to the island country.

“What we’re looking for is some signal that there are going to be changes in how Cuba operates that assures that political prisoners are released, that people can speak their minds freely, that they can travel, that they can write and attend church and do the things that people throughout the hemisphere can do and take for granted,” Obama said in a CNN interview recently.

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