Castro to US: End the embargo or Cuba will not renew bilateral ties

Castro to US: End the embargo or Cuba will not renew bilateral ties
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By RYAN GORMAN

Cuba's leader has demanded the U.S. close Guantanamo Bay and end the decades-long embargo against the island nation before diplomatic relations can become normalized.

President Raul Castro told a crowd gathered Wednesday in Costa Rica for a Latin America summit that the U.S. failing to change course on these two key issues would make it difficult for his nation to move forward in previously announced talks.

"Cuba is willing to normalize relations but the main problem has not been solved: the economic and financial blockade," Castro said, according to the TeleSUR network.

"[But] we should not pretend that Cuba will renounce its ideals of independence and freedom of their principles in the process of diplomatic relations with the U.S."

Castro backed U.S. President Barack Obama's desire to end the embargo and renew bilateral ties, but reiterated that Cuba should not be the only country expected to reverse decades of ill-informed policies.

"The main problem has not been resolved: the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes huge human and economic damage and is a violation of international rights," Castro said, according to the AFP.

The embargo is "a violation of international rights," Castro continued, according to TeleSUR. "It would not be ethical, fair, or acceptable if these problems are not solved – the diplomatic rapprochement wouldn't make any sense."

Both leaders announced last month an effort to normalize relations during unprecedented simultaneous addresses to their nations.

The U.S. government has yet to publicly respond to Castro's demands.

Information from the Associated Press was also used in this story.