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Raul Castro warns of 'a setback' in US-Cuba relations

16 Julio 2017

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

Mr Castro was speaking in front of Cuba's national assembly.

Cuban President Raul Castro on Friday denounced US President Donald Trump's partial rollback of the US-Cuban detente, saying it ignored broad public support for better relations and would satisfy only a few Cuban-American hard-liners.

Surrounded by Cuban-American exiles and Cuban dissidents in Miami, Mr. Trump announced last month that the U.S. would impose new limits on U.S. travellers to the island and ban any payments to the military-linked conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism industry.

Cuban President Raul Castro on Friday said that Donald Trump's hardline stance towards the country marks "a setback" in relations with the United States after ties were gradually restored in 2015.

Castro has seven months to go before he steps down as president, although he will remain head of the Communist Party, in which political power is vested in Cuba.

Foreign media does not have access to the twice-yearly meetings of the national assembly. Havana also hit back at Washington for criticizing its human rights record and accused the US government of illegal detention and torture of prisoners in the US prison of Guantanamo.

Castro called the new measures a toughening of the US embargo against the island, imposed since 1962, saying they evoked "an old and hostile rhetoric that characterised the Cold War".

"Any strategy that seeks to destroy the revolution either through coercion or pressure or through more subtle methods will fail", Cuba's president told legislators.

Castro said Cuba remained open to negotiating matters of bilateral interest with the United States, sticking to the relatively conciliatory tone it has struck of late.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's crude and fuel deliveries to Cuba slid almost 13% in the first half this year, according to documents from state-run oil company PDVSA viewed by Reuters. "But no one should expect that for this, one should have to make concessions inherent to one's sovereignty and independence".

Raul Castro warns of 'a setback' in US-Cuba relations