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Raul Castro thanks Vatican, Canada for facilitating dialogue with US

December 18, 2014, 1:49 UTC+3 HAVANA
He admitted however that although Havana and Washington had agreed on restoring the diplomatic relations this did not mean that the main problem had been resolved, too
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HAVANA, December 17. /TASS/. Cuban leader Raul Castro has thanked the Vatican and Canada for assistance in establishing dialogue with the U.S. He said it on Wednesday in a speech devoted to resumption of diplomatic relations with the West after an interval of 53 years.

“I’d like to express gratitude for the Vatican and especially to Pope Francis for facilitating improvement of relations between Cuba and the U.S.,” Castro said. “I’d also like to thank the Canadian government for the conditions it created for holding high-level dialogue between the countries.

He admitted however that although Havana and Washington had agreed on restoring the diplomatic relations this did not mean that the main problem had been resolved, too.

“Economic, trade and financial blockade that’s inflicting huge damage on the people and the economy of our country should stop,” Castro said.

He also mentioned Cuba’s proposal to Washington to take reciprocal steps towards improving the climate in bilateral relations and to move towards normalization of bilateral relations on the basis of principles of international law and the UN Charter.

Raul Castro, who is 83, said Havana was speaking for respectful dialogue based on sovereign equality.

“I acknowledge the big differences existing between us in what concerns the problems of national sovereignty, democracy, human rights, and foreign policy, I confirm our readiness to conduct dialogue on all these issues,” he said.

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