November 27, 2008 in Nation/World

Castro open to meeting Obama


Cuban President Raul Castro said in an interview released Wednesday that he would like to meet President-elect Barack Obama on “neutral ground” – and he suggested the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The Cuban leader’s offer came in a rare interview in Havana with actor-director Sean Penn, who wrote about it for the Dec. 15 edition of The Nation magazine. The article was released on the magazine’s Web site Wednesday.

Penn asked if Castro would meet with Obama in Washington. The Cuban president said he “would have to think about it,” but that it would not be fair for either leader to go to the other’s territory. Instead he suggested the base at Guantanamo.

Raul Castro is largely seen as more pragmatic and conciliatory than his fiery older brother Fidel, and has offered to meet with U.S. officials several times since replacing his ailing sibling in mid-2006.

Cuba’s main focus in such a meeting would be on normalizing trade, Castro said.

Navegantes, Brazil

Aid rushed to flood, slide victims

Brazil rushed aid Wednesday to nearly 80,000 people driven from their homes by rain-triggered mudslides and floods that have killed at least 99 people, while helicopter crews searched for families isolated by floodwaters.

Eight cities in southern Brazil with nearly 100,000 people remained cut off by flooding.

In the state of Santa Catarina, weekend downpours dumped as much water on the area as it usually receives in four months, cutting residents off from electricity, drinking water and food.

From wire reports

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