US: Fidel Castro message a 'positive sign'

The United States welcomed on Tuesday former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's (above) belated response to the thaw in ties between the Cold War foes as a sign that change is under way in Havana. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
The United States welcomed on Tuesday former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's (above) belated response to the thaw in ties between the Cold War foes as a sign that change is under way in Havana. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States welcomed on Tuesday former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's belated response to the thaw in ties between the Cold War foes as a sign that change is under way in Havana.

"We take his reference of 'international norms and principles' as a positive sign," State Department spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters, after Mr Castro's letter was released.

Ms Psaki said Washington now looked forward "to the Cuban government implementing those international norms and principles for a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba".

The 88-year-old and still influential former leader released his letter to state media late on Monday, after last week's historic first round of talks on restoring diplomatic ties between America and Cuba.

The revolutionary icon noted that he did not trust the United States, but did not repudiate the reconciliation process and defended the peaceful resolution of conflicts with "political adversaries".

And his language contained a nod to a normalisation in ties.

"Any peaceful and negotiated solution to problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latin America, which does not imply force or the use of force, should be treated according to international norms and principles," Mr Castro said.

In December, US President Barack Obama and Mr Raul Castro, who succeeded an Fidel as Cuba's president in 2006, agreed to begin normalising ties more than 50 years after they were broken.

Last week, the highest-ranking US delegation in 35 years began negotiating with Cuban officials in Havana on reopening embassies in their respective capitals and lifting some travel restrictions.