Latin America & Caribbean

Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal

Obama and Castro at Mandela's funeral, 10 December 2013 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There are still several hurdles for Barack Obama and Raul Castro to clear

Cuba has demanded the US hand back the Guantanamo Bay military base before relations with Washington are normalised.

In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba's removal from a terror list.

Last month the two countries announced a thaw in relations, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties. They were severed in 1961.

High-level talks were held last week.

A Congressional delegation arrived in Havana to begin negotiations aimed at reopening embassies in the two countries' capitals.

Meanwhile, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro appeared to signal his approval for the political rapprochement.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Fidel Castro stood down as Cuban president in 2008

Cuba's state-run newspaper published a letter on Tuesday in which he wrote: "We will always defend co-operation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries."

He wrote that although he did not "trust the policy of the US", it did not mean he rejected a "peaceful solution to conflicts".

'Illegally occupied'

His brother Raul, who succeeded him as president in 2008, made his demands at the summit of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Costa Rica.

"The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations," he said. "But this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don't give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base."

Media captionMight there be possibility for new car imports? Will Grant reports from Havana

The land on which the base stands was leased to the US government in 1903 by Cuba's then-rulers.

US officials have so far not responded to Mr Castro's remarks.

President Barack Obama has called on Congress to put an end to the trade embargo, which has been in place since 1962.

Earlier this month he also used his executive powers to loosen trade and restrictions on travel to the Caribbean island.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The land around Guantanamo Bay has been leased to the US for more than a century

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