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US-Cuba relations 'in decline,' president says

Since Trump's election as US president, ties with Cuba have deteriorated after a historic rapprochement overseen by his predecessor Barack Obama.

FILE: Cuba's new president Miguel Diaz-Canel, applauds during the speech of Cuban former president Raul Castro (out of frame) after he was formally named president by the National Assembly, in Havana on 19 April 2018. Picture: AFP

HAVANA - Relations between Cuba and the United States are in decline under President Donald Trump, his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

"Relations today are in decline. We still maintain channels of dialogue and our position is that we do not reject the possibility of dialogue at any time, but it must be between equals," Diaz-Canel said in the interview with the Telesur network, his first since taking office earlier this year.

Since Trump's election as US president, ties with Cuba have deteriorated after a historic rapprochement overseen by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Diaz-Canel took aim at the US economic blockade of Cuba, terming it "the main obstacle to the development of the country."

He also said Cuba was not behind mysterious "health attacks" that have plagued US diplomats in the country, saying: "We have not attacked anyone."

The apparent victims of what Washington has called sonic "attacks" have suffered symptoms consistent with mild brain trauma, including, in some cases, disorientation and hearing loss.

In the same interview, Diaz-Canel expressed support for same-sex marriage.

"The approach of recognizing marriage between two people, without limitations, responds to a problem of eliminating all types of discrimination in society," he said.

A new constitution to replace the 1976 version, which limits marriage to the "voluntary union of a man and a woman", has been approved by parliament and submitted to public debate.

Spearheaded by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former president Raul Castro, changes to the new constitution would include a provision that defines marriage as between "two people" rather than "a man and a woman."

The silver-haired Diaz-Canel assumed power in April from Castro, who himself took over from his elder brother Fidel, father of the 1959 revolution.

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