(Original title: U.S. rejects talking to Cuba’s “dictator-in-waiting”)
The State Department on Monday rejected an offer of talks with Raul Castro, Cuba’s acting president, saying it saw no point in a dialogue with what it called the Caribbean island’s “dictator-in-waiting.”
“The dialogue that should be taking place is not between Raul Castro and any group outside or any country outside of Cuba. It’s the regime, with the Cuban people, talking about a transition to a democratic form of governance in that country,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
The offer of talks, made on Saturday, was the most direct overture to the United States by the designated successor to Fidel Castro, who gave power to his brother temporarily after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in late July.
At a military parade on Saturday, Raul Castro railed at the Bush administration and condemned the Iraq war but added: “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.”
Asked if a dialogue might hasten Cuba’s transition to democracy, McCormack said: “I don’t see how. I don’t see how that really furthers the cause of democracy in that country where you have dialogue with a dictator-in-waiting who wants to continue the form of governance that has really kept down the Cuban people for all these decades.”
Washington broke off diplomatic relations with Havana in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro seized power in a revolution and turned Cuba into a Soviet ally. Communication channels were restored with the opening of low-level diplomatic missions called interest sections in 1978.