‘Raul Castro ready to meet Obama at Guantanamo’

November 27th, 2008 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Nov 27 (IANS) Cuban President Raul Castro is willing to meet US president-elect Barack Obama on “neutral territory” like the US Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba, according to actor-director Sean Penn, EFE reported Thursday.Penn’s interview with the Cuban leader is scheduled to appear in the Dec 15 issue of The Nation, and was posted Wednesday on the magazine’s web site.

“Perhaps we could meet at Guantanamo,” Raul, who succeeded ailing elder brother Fidel Castro in February, said about the possibility of talks with Obama after he is inaugurated as the president Jan 20.

“We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift. We could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay,” Castro told Penn.

“Personally, I think it would not be fair that I be the first to visit, because it is always the Latin American presidents who go to the United States first. But it would also be unfair to expect the president of the United States to come to Cuba. We should meet in a neutral place,” the Cuban leader said.

The Cuban president showed interest in normalizing trade relations with the United States and bringing an end to Washington’s 46-year-old economic embargo against the communist-ruled island.

“The only reason for the blockade is to hurt us. Nothing can deter the revolution. Let Cubans come to visit with their families. Let Americans come to Cuba,” Raul Castro said.

Castro, who still wears his general’s uniform on most occasions, says that his country is well-prepared to repulse a US military assault.

“Iraq is a child’s game compared with what would happen if the US invaded Cuba,” he said. “Preventing a war is tantamount to winning a war. This is in our doctrine.”

During the presidential election campaign, Obama stated his readiness to eliminate the strict regulations by the Bush administration on Cubans living in the US to visit relatives in the island or remit money.

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