November 26th, 2008
02:50 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama camp declines comment on reported Castro offer

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Castro reportedly told an interviewer he would be willing to meet with Obama."](CNN) - The Obama transition team declined comment Wednesday on a report that Cuban President Raul Castro might be interested in meeting with the president-elect at Guantanamo Bay, and had told an interviewer Cubans could "send [Obama] home with the American flag that waves over" the U.S. base there.

Asked whether he would be willing to visit Washington to speak with Obama, Castro instead suggested to actor Sean Penn Guantanamo Bay could serve as "neutral ground" for discussions. Castro also told Penn, in an interview published in The Nation, that the two leaders "must meet and begin to solve our problems."

Raul Castro’s brother, longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, criticized Obama this spring for his position in favor of altering – but retaining – Washington’s nearly five-decade trade embargo on the island nation.

Obama came under fire from campaign rivals for his statement at a CNN/YouTube Democratic primary debate that he would be willing to meet without preconditions with Castro and other leaders hostile toward the United States.

–CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Cuba
soundoff (111 Responses)

    I think its great that previous hostile leaders are willing to speak with Obama, I doubt we could say the same for any other American President. Everyone seems to love Obama and respect him..I'm sure some Republicans will see this as a bad thing..don't know how, but I dont see Obama being well liked as a negative thing. It's almost as if some people don't want America to be well liked globally.

    November 26, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Dee

    First, glad to see the able Sean Penn as apparent envoy to Cuba.
    Second, waiting to hear the announcements for Obama's head-to-head meetings with Casto, Chavez, Kim and others as promised. I'm so eager to see the big-O legitimize these wonderful leaders!

    November 26, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. Paul

    After 50 years of failed foreign policy with Cuba it's time for a new approach.

    November 26, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Barb

    What does it mean "to send Obama home with the American flag that waves over the US base".? I do not understand that statement, is it a good or bad gesture?

    November 26, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. jeff

    So when is he going to meet with him or is this his first of many promises he is going back on.
    People voted him in to power with no real mandate from the popular vote 53-47 except in the electoral collage.
    Now he has hired almost all of the 1992 Clinton people. If that is who his supporters wanted tney would have voted for Hillary.
    Same old Same old

    November 26, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. John G

    Well Obama DID say he would be willing to meet without preconditions. Lets see if he can back up that promise with actions...

    November 26, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. LyonsPhilly

    I don't think he should meet without pre-conditions. He is very brave but there is so much evil in this world. The fact that Castro is reaching out to him shows he will be a well respected president that won't hide in the White House

    November 26, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. katiec

    It is past time for this to come to an end. It has gone on long
    enough without any negotiation from either side. Maybe
    we could take one enemy off our list.

    November 26, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. Silence Dogood

    Obama really messed up that diplomacy opportunity during the campaign.

    He told one side then the other he was totally with them, thereby angering both sides. He looked good of course, but it showed his total cartoon approach to the real world.

    Hopefully Hillary's expereince can help him out.

    November 26, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Patricia

    Sean Penn.......??!! Go back to acting Mr. Penn.

    November 26, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. Pepou

    I hope Barack Obama will talk to Castro. Guantanamo should be closed and returned to Cuba. And let's open relations with this country and end that useless embargo which has been so detrimental to Cuban people.

    November 26, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. RGG

    It is time to turn a new page.

    November 26, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Mike, Cleveland, Ohio

    Paul is absolutely correct, this a miserable and failed policy to not talk or trade with Cuba. We talk and trade with China and Russia (when they were communist), why not Cuba? The stuff that happened 50 years is WAY outdated and we need to get this resolved...

    November 26, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. show it up

    the cuba situation should be left alone....we should NOT under any condiction meet with that cubain leader

    November 26, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. James

    Obama won't meet with Castro

    November 26, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. sandee in Portland

    Paul, you are so right. It's time for some diplomacy and talking instead of just attacking.

    November 26, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. gary n.

    I read that as many as 20,000 American citizens sneak into Cuba every year via Canada or one of the islands. I wouldn't mind vacationing there myself.

    November 26, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. kathleen , san juan

    Not helpful, Raul. Surely you must know Barack Obama cannot meet until after he is sworn in. And the taunts and bullying could backfire. Never worked for your brother.... If you want Guantanamo returned to Cuba, you need to know President Obama will face enormous opposition. This quote ascribed to you could set negotiations back by months, maybe years. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

    November 26, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. chico in Virginia

    I feel that President Obama has an opportunity to grasp history. This would bridge the gap between the United States and Cuba. The Cuban people, thru his persona, can believe in shifting from Communism to Democracy. Also, it would be outstanding for BOTH our economies. This sounds like history is once again banging on the doors. Who better to greet it than by the same man who showed the world that our Democracy is genuine.

    November 26, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. California Gold

    Is it a slow news day?

    November 26, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Wendy

    I'm glad Sean Penn helped out.

    November 26, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Ola

    Lets hug it out people!

    November 26, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Rod Davis in Cozumel, MX

    I am impressed that the leaders of just about every nation that Bush dissed is requesting to be allowed to talk to 'O'! Obviously, we should take that as a positive sign of each leader's willingness to resolve the issues that deny openess between them and the United States.

    To those leaders and all others – please allow him to become President before you start demanding that he make committments and decisions that he can only make if he is President, not President-elect. LOL!

    May he succeed at every turn because God knows that we do need someone to put things back right!

    November 26, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |


    November 26, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Eric, TX

    I agree, we need a new approach to alot of things...because what we have now is not working!

    November 26, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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