Cuban Leader: Havana Wants Dialogue With US Despite Trump's Clampdown

Cuban Leader: Havana Wants Dialogue With US Despite Trump's Clampdown”

In his first public riposte to Trump since the latter unveiled his new Cuba policy last month, Castro told the national assembly that any attempt to topple the revolution would fail, as it had under 11 previous US presidents.

Cuba's economy bounced back from recession and expanded an estimated 1.1% in the first half of this year, driven by growth in tourism, construction and agriculture, Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas told the National Assembly Friday.

But US President Donald Trump in June ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba as part of a rollback of the US-Cuban detente, casting a shadow over the industry's outlook.

"Cuba has much to be proud of, and it does not have to receive lessons from the United States or anyone else", he said during the session.

Castro criticized Trump's partial rollback of Obama's rapprochement with the communist island in comments ahead of the second anniversary of Havana embassy's reopening in Washington on July 20.

Castro - who is 86 and due to leave the Cuban presidency in February - reiterated his willingness to continue "respectful dialogue" and negotiate bilateral issues "on the basis of equality" and recognition of "the sovereignty and independence of our country".

"The announcements made by the current president (...) mean a setback in the bilateral relations", said Mr. Castro at the closing session of the Parliament of cuba, broadcast with a delay by the television official.

Since then the two nations agreed to cooperate in such areas as combating drug and human trafficking, transportation and protecting the environment. Obama is reportedly planning a historic visit to Cuba in March.

Meanwhile, Cuba's main political and trade ally Venezuela is in crisis with triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and medicine fanning protests against the socialist government.

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". The decrease was the first reported by Cuba in years.

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