Castro says Cuba ready to meet with U.S.

April 17, 2009 at 7:33 AM
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HAVANA, April 17 (UPI) -- Cuban President Raul Castro said his government -- under a U.S. economic blockade since the 1960s -- is ready to meet leaders of the Obama administration.

The Cuban leader said Cuba informed the U.S. government of their position after President Barack Obama eased restrictions on Cuban-Americans traveling to visit family in Cuba as well as their sending them money, CNN reported Friday.

"We've told the North American government, in private and in public, that we are prepared, wherever they want, to discuss everything -- human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners -- everything, everything, everything that they want to discuss," Castro said during a gathering of leftist Latin American leaders in Venezuela.

The U.S. government instituted its embargo against Cuba three years after Fidel Castro, Raul's older brother, came to power in 1959 and began allying the island nation with Russia and other communist countries.

In Mexico City, meanwhile, Obama said the United States was looking for signals of "changes in how Cuba operates," adding that such changes could lead to a "further thawing of relations" between the two countries.

Obama was in the Mexico Thursday for meetings with Mexican President Felipe Calderon before traveling to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas that begins Friday.

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