Relations between the US and Cuba cannot return to normal until the US lifts its decades-long trade embargo of the country, Cuban President Raul Castro said in a speech to the United Nations on Monday.
Castro also called for the closing down of the controversial American military base at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and stopping broadcasts against communism on the island.
Castro’s sentiment was repeated by US President Barack Obama, whom he is scheduled to meet one-on-one on Tuesday for the second time since the two nations resumed diplomatic ties.
Obama said during his speech to the UN General Assembly that he was confident the US Congress would lift “an embargo that should not be in place anymore.”
The Cuban leader, who addressed the UN for the first time since succeeding his brother Fidel in 2006, said a normalisation of the bilateral relationship that began with an official rapprochement in April this year “will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.”
The US trade embargo, which has long been a problematic issue between Cuba and the country, has been in place since 1960.
According to a scheduled announced by the White House on Sunday, President Obama would hold talks with his Cuban counterpart on Tuesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly, which will be their second meeting following on from their first historic get-together in Panama in April.
Obama and Castro also spoke with one another in a rare phone call earlier this month ahead of Pope Francis' visit to both their countries.
Pope Francis hailed the US and Cuba’s efforts to restore relations during his visit to the island nation, calling it an “example of reconciliation for the entire world."