(CNSNews.com) – In a joint press conference with Cuban dictator Raul Castro in Havana, Cuba, on Monday, President Barack Obama said he welcomes Castro’s criticism of the U.S.
“I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we’re falling short, because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well,” Obama said.
Obama was responding to a reporter’s question about whether the Communist country has Cuban political prisoners and why Castro won’t release them.
Obama said the two “had a very frank conversation around issues of democracy and human rights.”
“President Castro I think has pointed out that in his view making sure that everybody’s getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age, that those things are human rights as well,” Obama said.
“I personally would not disagree with him, but it doesn’t detract from some of these other concerns, and the goal of the human rights dialogue is not for the United States to dictate to Cuba how they should govern themselves but to make sure that we are having a frank and candid conversation around this issue, and hopefully that we can learn from each other,” he said. “It does not mean that it has to be the only issue we talk about.
“Economics, health, scientific exchanges, international cooperation on issues of regional as well as global import are also important, but this is something that we are going to stay on, and I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we’re falling short, because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well,” Obama added.