- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cuba President Raul Castro said that if the United States wants to smooth relations, then the United States must first turn over Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Castro also demanded the United States lift trade sanctions on his country and pay Cuba hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate for perceived damages that were suffered through the years from embargoes, The Associated Press reported.

He made the comments during a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

“If these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense,” he said, AP reported.

Mr. Obama, who announced on Dec. 17 the movement of normalized relations with Cuba, has already loosened a long-running trade embargo with the country — but not all. Mr. Castro said Cuba now wanted the United States to stop supporting Cuban dissidents and to start the process of removing the nation from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, AP said.

“The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalizing bilateral relations, 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,” Mr. Castro said, AP reported.

Gitmo was established by the United States in 1903. Cuba has been demanding the United States give it over to its authority for decades.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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