Cuban President Raul Castro talks to Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing July 6, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
The relationship between the United States and its close neighbor Cuba hasn't been on good footing for five decades. Now, however, it seems that Cuban President Raul Castro is extending an invitation to the United States to open talks between the two countries.
President Castro addressed a crowd at a Revolution Day ceremony, something he had not done in two years, and said that he was willing to talk to the United States as long as it was a "conversation between equals."
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Castro went on to say that, "Any day they want, the table is set."
He was also intent on making the talks completely open. Any subject would be open for discussion, but he still stressed that he was not to be strong handed by the much bigger and powerful United States.
"...the problems of democracy, human rights etc. But on equal terms because we are no-one's colony," he said.
Castro was also lighthearted, stating that if the United States wanted to have a conflict, it should be lighthearted, like a sports game.
"Preferably baseball when sometimes they win, sometimes we do," he said.
The Cuban president also made a nod to internal reforms, saying that they would happen "little by little."
Raul Castro has been president of Cuba since 2008, when his brother Fidel Castro decided to step down.
The U.S. government has acknowledged of Cuba's new willingness to open itself up, which Castro said was communicated to the United States via diplomatic cable before the address on Revolution Day.
"Our message is very clear to the Castro government: They need to begin to allow for the political freedom of expression that the Cuban people demand, and we are prepared to discuss with them how this can be furthered," Mike Hammer, assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. State Department, said.