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us and cuba diplomacy


Cuban President Raul Castro has spoken publicly for the first time against President Donald Trump’s rollback of a thaw between the two countries a month ago.

Raul Castro said “attempts to destroy the revolution” would fail.

President Trump has tightened restrictions on US travel to and business with Cuba.

However, the US embassy in Havana, re-opened by former President Barack Obama, is still operating.

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President Castro was speaking in front of Cuba’s national assembly. It was his first public comment on the policy changes President Trump announced a month ago.

State-run Cuban media quoted President Castro as saying that President Trump was using “old and hostile rhetoric” and had returned to “confrontation that roundly failed over 55 years”.

The Cuban president said: “We reject the manipulation of the topic of human rights against Cuba, which can be proud of much in this area and does not need to receive lessons from the United States nor anyone.”

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Donald Trump anchored his policy rollback in human rights concerns raised by political opponents of Cuba’s communist government, many of whom have fled to Miami where the president announced the changes on June 16.

President Castro continued: “Cuba and the United States can cooperate and live side by side, respecting their differences. But no one should expect that for this, one should have to make concessions inherent to one’s sovereignty and independence.”

Raul Castro will step down as president in seven months, but will remain the head of the country’s Communist Party.

Cuba and the US have opened full embassies in Havana and Washington.

Just after midnight local time, the diplomatic missions of each country became full embassies.

The two countries formally restored diplomatic relations after an agreement struck in December 2014 putting aside decades of hostility came into force.

Secretary of State John Kerry is due to hold talks with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez later in the day in Washington.US embassy in Cuba reopens in 2015

Despite the historic shift, Cuba and the US admit to lingering difficulties.

There were still “issues that we don’t see eye to eye on”, a US state department spokesman said.

Restrictions on Americans wanting to travel to Cuba remain in place, as does the wider US trade embargo banning most American companies from doing business in Cuba.

Cuba says the embargo – which it calls a blockade – is hugely damaging to its economy.

Cuban President Raul Castro has urged President Barack Obama to lift it, calling it the main stumbling block towards normalizations. But the US Congress would have to vote on the issue.

Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced the move towards diplomatic ties in December 2014.