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12/22/13 - PRPick.com - Cuba's Raul Castro calls for 'civilised relations' with US 

Cuban President Raul Castro has called for "civilised relations" with the
United States, saying the two countries should respect their differences.

President Castro said the US should  drop its demand for regime change  on
the communist-run island.

That would allow both sides to continue work on improving relations, he

Mr Castro's comments follow a public handshake with President Obama at the
memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela in South Africa earlier this month.

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We do not ask the United States to change its political and social system."

Raul Castro In a rare public speech, Mr Castro said Cuban and American
officials had met several times over the last year to discuss practical
matters, such as immigration and the re-establishment of a postal service.

That shows that relations can be civilised, Mr Castro explained.

But he warned: "If we really want to make progress in bilateral relations,
we have to learn to respect each other's differences and get used to living
peacefully with them. Otherwise, no. We are ready for another 55 years like
the last."

The US broke off relations with in 1961 after the revolution and maintains
an economic embargo against the island.  "We do not ask the United States
to change its political and social system, nor do we agree to negotiate
over ours," Mr Castro told legislators at the closing session of the
parliament in the capital, Havana.

Relations between the two neighbours have shown signs of improvement of
late, although some stumbling blocks to reconciliation remain, said the
BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Havana.

Raul Castro, 82, took over from his brother, Fidel, in 2006. Fidel had
serious health problems and was never able to come back to power. Two years
later, he resigned and transferred control permanently to Raul Castro.

He has since carried out a programme of economic reforms, which has helped
efforts for relations with the US to be improved.

But critics say the pace of change has been too slow.

"The reform process in Cuba cannot be rushed or it will lead to failure,"
Mr Castro warned.

Among the most recent changes announced by Raul Castro is the end of
restrictions on private individuals to buy new and second hand cars.

Anyone with enough money will be allowed to order the vehicles from a
government dealer.

Until now, only those who were given a previous government authorisation
were allowed to buy cars in Cuba.


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