Cuban President Raul Castro hails Pope Francis as key in brokering U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, says embargo should cease to exist. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The U.S. and Cuba are on course to re-establish diplomatic relations, crucial to aiding the island nation's economic and financial situation, Cuban President Raul Castro said on Wednesday. Castro said he spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama by telephone on Tuesday ahead of Obama's announcement that the United States would change its Cuba policy and seek to normalize relations between the longtime adversaries. U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, who had served five years in a Cuban prison, was released. The release of the three remaining Cuban agents will likely be hailed as resounding victory at home for Castro, but he avoided triumphal statements in his televised address. He said it was a cause for joy for "enormous joy of their families and our all of our people." In a rare nod to the United States following nearly 56 years of hostilities between the two countries, Castro praised Obama. "This decision by President Obama deserves respect and recognition by our people," Castro said.