The United States has said it would move to lift a 44-year trade embargo on Cuba if the interim government of the communist state embraces democracy.
Tom Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said the US administration, "in consultation with Congress," would "lift the embargo" if the Cuban interim government accepted democratic rule, respected human rights and paved the way for free elections.
He said that in 2002, President George W Bush made a similar offer but it was rejected by ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who on July 31 provisionally handed over power to his brother Raul Castro after undergoing major surgery.
"The offer is still on the table," Shannon said.
"If the Cuban regime were prepared to free political prisoners, respect human rights, especially those rights most important for the effective exercise of democracy, if you are prepared to permit the creation of independent organisations ... And if you are prepared to create a mechanism and a pathway towards elections, then we would, in consultation with the Congress, look to find ways to lift the embargo," Shannon told a news conference.
The junior Castro, in his first public statement last week since taking over from the bearded strongman who has ruled Cuba for nearly 48 years, said that he had mobilized tens of thousands of reservists and militia members to face a possible US invasion threat while his elder brother recuperated from an operation.
The United States has invaded and administered Cuba in the past, a subject of everyday political discussion by the Cuban government.