27 Jul 2012

Cuba signals willingness to talk with US

10:26 am on 27 July 2012

Cuba's president Raul Castro says he is willing to hold talks with the United States, provided Cuba is treated as America's equal.

The offer came during an apparently unscripted appearance.

The leader has not spoken at an annual Revolution Day ceremony for the past two years but is reported to have grabbed the microphone at this year's event and told the crowd he will particpate in talks with the United States, provided the two countries are on an equal rhetorical footing.

He said he is willing to discuss democracy and human rights with the Obama administration "any day they want."

Confrontation with the US should only take place on the sports field, he said.

The remarks come just days after Cuba's most promiment dissident Oswaldo Paya died in what the authorities say was a car accident.

No talks between Havana and Washington are currently scheduled.