Monday, April 6, 2009

End Cuba isolation, Castro urges

Fidel Castro has called on Latin American countries to support an end to Cuba's isolation when they meet the US president at a regional summit.

Cuba is not invited to attend the Summit of the Americas, which opens in Trinidad and Tobago on 17 April.

In a newspaper editorial, the former president said that the summit would be a "trial by fire" for the region.

He urged leaders to ensure that both Cuba's isolation and the US trade embargo against it were on the agenda.

Almost all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean now support an end to the embargo and want Cuba re-admitted to the organisation of American states, says the BBC's Michael Voss, in Havana.

Mr Castro said that he had seen a draft text of the final statement which the US wants to be signed at the summit.

It contained "a great number of inadmissible concepts", he wrote, and did not acknowledge the calls for better Cuba-US ties.

"Who is now demanding our exclusion? Perhaps they don't understand that times of exclusionary agreements against our people have been left far behind," he wrote.

US President Barack Obama has taken a less confrontational approach to the communist nation than his predecessor, George W Bush, our correspondent adds.

But his administration continues to insist that there must be progress towards democracy and on human rights before the trade embargo can be lifted.

The US began imposing restrictions on Cuba after Mr Castro took power in 1959, making it the only Communist state in the Americas - and a Cold War flashpoint.

Mr Castro's younger brother, Raul, formally took over the presidency from him in February last year.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/04/06 01:29:22 GMT

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