HAVANA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday asked the United States to respect its differences with his country, and to establish a civilized bilateral relationship.
"If in recent times we have been able to maintain some exchanges on issues of mutual benefit between Cuba and the United States, we believe we can resolve other issues of interests and establish a civilized relationship," the Cuban leader said when closing the last parliamentary session this year.
Castro reiterated his willingness to hold talks with Washington, and urged the neighboring country to "learn mutually to respect our differences and get used to living in peace with them."
Earlier this month, Castro shook hands with U.S. President Barack Obama while attending the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela, which raised expectations for an improvement of the bilateral relations. However, both governments later played down the handshake, saying it was only a polite gesture.
The United States formally broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 over ideological differences following the victory of the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, which resulted in the nationalization of all properties of U.S. companies on the island.
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