Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, met Tuesday for the first time since the two countries reestablished full diplomatic relations on July 20.
According to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the talks, held during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, were conducted under a respectful and constructive atmosphere and addressed broad themes including the recent visit of Pope Francis to both nations.
Rodriguez told a press conference that both leaders agreed on the need to continue working on the bilateral agenda of the two countries, which includes areas of mutual benefit and also for other countries, including Haiti.
At the same time, Raul Castro confirmed the willingness of his country to work to build a new type of relationship with the United States, based on respect and sovereignty.
Furthermore, the Cuban leader reiterated the need to lift the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States for more than half a century.
Rodriguez elaborated the point, saying that the blockade persists in its totality without modification. The progress of the process will depend on the lifting of this policy, the minister said, raising the same issues as will be detailed in a resolution to be presented to the U.N. Oct. 27 called “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on Cuba,” which last year was backed by much of the international community.
Obama himself has said that he is in favor of lifting the blockade. On Monday, he told the U.N. General Assembly that the U.S. Congress will inevitably lift the economic blockade.
Referring to Cuba, Obama said that to move forward in this new era, we have to be strong enough to acknowledge when what you re doing is not working.