Fidel Castro appears to lend support to Cuba-US relations in first comments
Fidel Castro appears to lend support to Cuba-US relations in first comments on restoring diplomatic ties
Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro appears to have lent his support to talks with the United States in his first comments since both countries agreed last month to restore diplomatic ties.
But Mr Castro stopped short of an enthusiastic endorsement of the rapprochement which was announced on December 17 by his younger brother and Cuba's current president, Raul Castro, and US president Barack Obama.
"I don't trust the policy of the United States nor have I had an exchange with them, but this does not mean ... a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or the dangers of war," Fidel Castro, 88, said in a statement published on the website of Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma.
The US and Cuba held historic high-level talks last week in Havana that were expected to lead to the re-establishment of diplomatic ties severed by Washington in 1961.
"Any peaceful or negotiated solution to the problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latin America that doesn't imply force or the use of force should be treated in accordance with international norms and principles," Mr Castro said.
"We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries."
Mr Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and spent much of his 49 years in power railing against the US, which never succeeded in many attempts to oust him.
He was finally forced into retirement in 2008 by poor health and was succeeded by his brother Raul, who is 83.
"The president of Cuba has taken the pertinent steps in accordance with his prerogatives and the powers given to him by the National Assembly the Communist Party of Cuba," Fidel Castro said of his brother in the statement.
His silence on the issue had led to speculation over his health and whether he supported his brother's rapprochement with the US.
On January 12, he sent a letter to friend and retired Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona that squelched rumors he had died.