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Cuba open to talks with Obama: Castro

world Updated: Dec 05, 2008 10:05 IST
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Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Thursday his country was open to talks with US President-elect Barack Obama, Havana's latest overture toward the incoming Democratic administration in Washington.

"With Obama, talks could happen anywhere he wants," Castro, America's longtime Cold War enemy, wrote in the latest of a series of columns he has published in state-run media since falling ill in 2006.

"He should remember the carrot-and-stick theory will not work with our country," Castro wrote of Obama. "The sovereign rights of the Cuban people are not negotiable."

Castro's brother Raul, who formally took over the Cuban presidency in February, has said several times that Havana is willing to talk to the United States.

Raul Castro told a US magazine last week he was open to meeting Obama in a "neutral place" to try to resolve the two countries' 40-year-old conflict.

Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, has raised hopes of improved US-Cuba ties by saying he was open to talks with the Cuban government and favored easing some US sanctions against Cuba.

Before the US presidential election last month, Fidel Castro praised Obama as intelligent and humanitarian in the columns that have become his main form of communication since having surgery for an undisclosed ailment in July 2006. Castro, who took power nearly 50 years ago after an armed revolution, has not been seen in public since falling ill.