Raul Castro to make first UN General Assembly address
Cuban President Raul Castro will address the UN General Assembly for the first time later this month, Havana said Wednesday, and is expected to use his speech to push for an end to the US embargo.
A draft schedule published by the United Nations indicated that the Cuban leader would speak on September 28, the same day as US President Barack Obama.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez confirmed the appearance, which comes just two months after Washington and Havana reestablished diplomatic relations after more than a half century of enmity.
The UN General Assembly has voted each year since 1982 to approve a resolution calling on the United States to lift the embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since 1960.
This year, however, Cuba will introduce a resolution that also "welcomes" the reestablishment of relations with Washington, and acknowledges Obama`s determination to work with the US Congress to lift the embargo, Rodriguez told a news conference.
Nevertheless, it will express "concern" that the embargo remains in place, and its negative impact on Cubans both on the island and living "in other countries, particularly the United States."
Rodriguez put the damage inflicted on Cuba by the embargo at over $121 billion. The United States imposed it in retaliation for Cuba`s nationalization without compensation of US properties on the island.
Since the rapprochement with Cuba, the Obama administration also has expressed support for lifting the embargo, but the decision rests with Congress, where a Republican majority opposes the move.
More than 160 world leaders are expected at the UN General Assembly, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
China`s President Xi Jinping will also be making his debut, delivering his address on September 28, shortly before Russian President Vladimir Putin, who returns to the United Nations after a 10-year absence.
Fidel Castro took part in the gathering on four occasions following the Cuban revolution in 1959.
This would be Raul Castro`s first speech to the UN General Assembly since he succeeded his brother as president in 2006.