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Raul Castro says no progress made on key issues in Cuba-US ties

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-19 15:42

HAVANA - Cuba and the United States have made no progress in the past year on key issues that would improve bilateral relations, Cuban President Raul Castro said on Friday.

In a televised address to the nation, Castro marked the one-year anniversary of the two countries' historic announcement made on Dec. 17, 2014 on restoring diplomatic ties.

Since that date, the two nations "have achieved some results, particularly in the political, diplomatic and cooperation spheres," said Castro.

However, "this year we have not made any progress in the solution of those issues which are essential for Cuba to be able to have normal relations with the United States," Castro added.

According to Castro, the issues include lifting or substantially scaling back the U.S.-led trade embargo against Cuba, withdrawing from the Guantanamo Bay, where the United States illegally maintains a naval base and notorious prison, ending programs aimed at "regime change" as well as changing prejudicial immigration policy towards Cuba.

Castro took U.S. President Barack Obama to task for not doing more to alleviate the financial, economic and trade sanctions that strangle the Cuban economy.

"Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade and has urged the Congress to lift it, this policy remains in force," said Castro.

"The persecution of Cuba's legitimate financial transactions as well as the extraterritorial impact of the blockade, which causes damages and hardships to our people and is the main obstacle to the development of the Cuban economy, have been tightened," he added.

Meanwhile, Castro added that Washington has also said it "has no intention" to leave Guantanamo.

"The U.S. government is still implementing programs that are harmful to Cuba's sovereignty, such as the projects aimed at bringing about changes in our political, economic and social orders and the illegal radio and television broadcasts, for which they continue to allocate millions of dollars in funds," said Castro.

Though restoring diplomatic ties has nominally brought the bilateral relationship into the modern era, Washington's Cold War policies towards Cuba remain in place, said Castro.

"No one should expect that, in order to normalize relations with the United States, Cuba will renounce the principles and ideals for which several generations of Cubans have struggled throughout more than half a century. The right of every state to choose the economic, political and social system it wishes, without any interference whatsoever, should be respected," he said.

Cuba will continue to work to build a relationship with the United States "that is beneficial to both countries and peoples," added Castro.

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