|After 47 Years, U.S. is Ready to Talk With Cuba|
|Thursday, 16 April 2009 14:33|
Reuters - The United States is ready to talk to Cuba, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday as Caribbean leaders piled pressure on Washington to end its sanctions against the island.
A day before the start of a 34-nation Summit of the Americas that excludes Cuba, the issue of the hemisphere's only one-party communist state and U.S. hostility toward it was dominating diplomatic activity in the region.
President Barack Obama, who hopes to open up a new era of improved cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean at the three-day meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, earlier this week relaxed parts of the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
But he says he expects Havana to reciprocate by giving more human rights and democracy to its citizens, and that the embargo will remain in place until this is forthcoming.
After talks with Clinton in Haiti on Thursday, Haitian President Rene Preval said he hoped that Cuba could take part in the next summit meeting of leaders of the hemisphere.
"My wish, and it is a wish already expressed several times by the United Nations General Assembly, is that the embargo be lifted," Preval said in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
Clinton said she agreed with the emphasis on moving toward dialogue throughout the hemisphere. "We stand ready to discuss with Cuba additional steps that could be taken," she said.
But she made clear Washington was also waiting for Havana to make a contribution to an improvement of relations.
"A form of godliness without the power is a weariness and burden; but when the whole heart is enlisted in the service of Christ, there is rest to the soul; for God causeth such to triumph daily over the powers of darkness. God helps him who commits his soul unto the Lord as unto a faithful Creator...." E. G. White