Cuba’s acting President Raul Castro has invited the U.S. to engage in diplomatic talks: “We take this opportunity to once again state that we are willing to resolve at the negotiating table the long-standing dispute between the United States and Cuba.”

The ball is in President Bush’s court, though Cuban exiles, who wield tremendous power in American politics, will probably block any diplomatic progress with a Castro government.

Reuters via Yahoo:

It was the second time Raul Castro has offered to talk with Washington since he took over from his brother on July 31. Fidel Castro has not appeared in public since, fueling speculation he is close to death.

“Raul Castro’s statement is extremely significant, because it is the most direct statement he has made to Washington since taking power,” said Dan Erikson of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy group.

“It marks a significant departure from Fidel’s longstanding preference for conflict and confrontation,” he said.



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