Cuba unsure what to expect from Obama

January 21st, 2009 - 10:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaHavana, Jan 21 (IANS) Cuba’s parliament speaker has praised Barack Obama’s inaugural address as US president while stressing that it remains to be seen whether the new occupant of the White House would change Washington’s policy towards the communist-ruled island, EFE reported Wednesday.”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,” Ricardo Alarcon told journalists Tuesday at the Havana University.

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

President Raul Castro earlier said that he was prepared to meet Obama whenever and wherever the new US president wanted him to meet.

Castro said he wanted to end the decades-old conflict between Havana and Washington, but would not submit to “carrot and stick” manipulation.

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

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 in the country.

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