National Security Network

Cuba's Raul Castro: Let's talk

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News The Cable 17 April 2009

Cuba National Security Network Raul Castro

Written by Laura Rozen

Cuban president Raul Castro has responded to moves by the Obama administration this week to relax restrictions on Cuban American travel and remittances to the island, saying he welcomes talking about "everything" with the U.S. government.

"We have sent messages to the U.S. government in private and in public that we are willing to discuss everything, whenever they want," Castro said in a speech in Venezuela Thursday, as cited by Reuters.

"Human rights, press freedom, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything they want to talk about," Castro said.

Meantime, Fidel Castro has replied to a letter from 12 retired senior U.S. military officers -- including Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (ret.), former drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, and Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy -- calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress to end the travel ban to Cuba for all Americans, not just those of Cuban descent. The letter was organized by the New America Foundation and the National Security Network.

"We give thanks to those who wrote the letter to Obama, just as we thank senators Lugar and Delahunt, the Caucus and other influential members of Congress," the elder Castro wrote.

"We do not fear dialogue; we do not need to invent enemies," he continued. "We do not fear the debate of ideas; we believe in our convictions and with them we have known how to defend and continue defending our homeland."

Cuba is excluded from the 34-nation Summit of the Americas getting underway in Trinidad and Tobago today, which Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are attending.