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Raul Castro: U.S. must end decades-old embargo to normalize relations

By
Doug G. Ware
Cuban President Raul Castro addresses the 70th session of the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly held Monday at the UN in New York City. Photo by Monika Graff/UPI
Cuban President Raul Castro addresses the 70th session of the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly held Monday at the UN in New York City. Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- In his first-ever address to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Cuban President Raul Castro said the United States must end its 50-year-old trade embargo if there are to be normal relations between the two nations.

Castro took the dais late Monday afternoon for his address -- after President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke -- and commended the White House for the thawing of relations that has happened this year.

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In July, the Obama administration formally reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961. Monday, the government lifted the long-standing restrictions on U.S. travel and business dealings with the Caribbean nation.

However, the general trade embargo has remained.

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Dozens of nations worldwide have advocated Castro's request that the embargo be lifted -- support the Cuban leader acknowledged during his address Monday.

"To the 188 governments and peoples that have sponsored our just demand, here and in other international and regional forums, I reaffirm the eternal appreciation of the Cuban people and government for your continued support," he said.

Castro further declared that full normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States will only be achieved with an end to the embargo.

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He also asked for the end of "subversion and destabilization programs," compensation for "human and economic damages," and the return of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which Havana considers illegally occupied by the United States.

Obama has been trying to close the prison since he took office in 2009.

In his address, Castro also touched on several other issues, including climate change -- saying it is a very serious challenge to humanity, and a problem that all of the world's nations should work to solve.

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