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Cuba will not discuss political reforms with Obama: minister


Havana: Political and economic reforms in communist Cuba will be a no-go area during talks between Cuban leader Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama, the foreign minister has said in Havana.

“In our relations with the United States, the carrying out of internal changes in Cuba are absolutely off the negotiating table,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said yesterday in televised remarks three days before Obama arrives.

Obama will be the first serving US president to visit Cuba since 1928, capping his historic policy of ending a bitter standoff that has endured since the 1959 ousting by Fidel Castro of the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista.

Although both sides are embracing Obama’s visit as an opportunity to bury the hatchet, Rodriguez made clear that Cuba will not listen to Washington’s often repeated demands for more democracy and a freer economy.

“No one can pretend that Cuba should renounce a single principle in order to advance the normalization of relations between both countries,” the minister said.

Rodriguez said there remain “major differences” between Cuba and the United States in areas of “political systems, democracy, human rights, the application and interpretation of international law.

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