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)
  1. Justin from CT

    I would love to be the neutral ground for Castro. Get rid of the embargo already.

    November 26, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Rob

    As a Cuban American I cringe at the sight of an American President negotiating with either of the Castro brothers. But it's time we should completely drop the embargo and show the Cubans on the island our economic power. Hopefully then can we truly influence Cuba's regime to begin a transition back towards a democratic republic rather then a socialist republic.

    November 26, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. lik

    leave us alone!!!

    November 26, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Change - Yeah Left

    And so it begins – the slow growth of Socalism in America.

    All Heil All Heil the Messiah cometh!

    November 26, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Obama Victim

    perfect match..............two commies............

    Hola Comrade

    November 26, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Alex

    Since the punditry seems so interested in "pragmatism" instead of "ideology", it seems now is as good a time as any to move past idiotic Cold War rhetoric, fear of the "International Communist Conspiracy", etc. While we should reasonably expect some transparency and progress on the rights of Cuban citizens, there's no reason we cannot begin the process of establishing a co-operative relationship with one of our closest neighbors.

    November 26, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. Iowa Mom

    Sean Penn is palling around with Castro?

    November 26, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Iowa Mom

    Once again Obama Victim and Welcome to the Obama Show never let us down. Gonna let any of that hate go on Thanksgiving at least?

    November 26, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. billy-bayou


    The failed policy with cuba lies at the feet of the Democrate. They could not tollerate Juan Batista so they helped Castro replace him.

    they got what they wanted, "Change" now you want the new guy at the whitehouse when he is installed to love up to the Castros, no problem, he wants to meet with American haters without pre-conditins.

    Without per-conditions translates to "Visit with me on my terms in a place and time of my choosing" and no doubt that will be acceptable to the obama. He owes it to them.

    November 26, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Jeff

    Let the healing begin. Set an example for others.

    November 26, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    I think Obama should to to GTMO and then open up a Home Depot and Best Buy on the base.

    November 26, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Corey

    Not a million years will Hillary Rodham Clinton ever be the first American political diplomat to set foot on Cuban soil if for no other reason, it's bad PR.

    This crystalized what's different between a politician and a diplomat.

    November 26, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. g ontario

    china good communist lentusa a trillion dollars so they would not go bankrupt cuba bad communist no money american military has to make sure they have enemies for there next war if china will bankrole another one

    November 26, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Randy

    Why shouldn't Obama meet with every leader of every nation on this earth-without preconditions. The Rs had a field day with this during the campaign, but failed to make the point that they thought thier foriegn policy was better.
    Without preconditions means that you can sit down with them and you can tell an idiot that hes is an idiot. Tell them that they are wrong in thier approach to whatever problem that keeps us apart. Is that a bad thing? NO. What is a bad thing is no dialog at all. Just the retoric that goes back and forth.
    Didn't the Bush admin read Diplomacy For Dummies?

    November 26, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. ran

    Obama please be true to your word and start meeting with these leaders for that is the only way to get this country and the world back on the right track for the good of us all.

    November 26, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. Bill in PA

    Hypocrisy knows no bounds. Don't talk to Cuba because it's a communist country but buy everything imaginable from China but it's also a communist country. I guess money talks and ideology walks when it comes to communist China.

    November 26, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. Canadian POV

    It would be in the best interest of the US to meet and try to normalize relations with Cuba. The Russians and the Chinese are very happy to be in Latin America (the military co-operation with Venezuela is under reported in American news). China is investing heavily into Cuba, replacing the Russian influence. Raoul seems to be willing to modernize his country more than his brother was. We Canadians can travel to Cuba and many do make it their winter vacation destination and having been there, I was struck by how many people there have a positive image of the US but really despise the current president. Good relations with Castro and Chavez is very important for US security.

    November 26, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. JuanM the "Office of the President-Elect" refuses to make a comment. yeah this is going to be an "open" administration.

    November 26, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. Rick

    Obama and Castro should get along just fine.....birds of a feather.

    November 26, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Andy

    Don't you just love it when people like Sean Penn can take time out from playing make believe and drug rehab to mettle in international affairs.

    November 26, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Gene

    And the difference between Obama and the rest of them..

    Obama has the cajones to look his enemy in the eye.. not just his buddies while hiding behind the human shield we call our military.

    November 26, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Tomas C.

    We are in very good relationship with Japan and Vietnam, who killed lots of Americans, why not with Cuba, they didn't do anything against Americans. US policy toward Cuba have been damaging the Cuban people, not the government. I hope President-elect Obama will do something good about it.
    Cuban-American from Miami

    November 26, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. smpotter

    Right wing of Attila the Hun, eh ? Didn'y realize you people knew how to read.

    November 26, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Peter (CA)

    Hey right wingers...check out Rob's comment at 4:10.

    A well thought out response....

    November 26, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Steve in VA

    He can learn more of their communist system to impose upon the American people. If he goes down there and surrenders to Cuba, does that mean that Castro then lives in the White House?

    November 26, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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