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Raul Castro: Cuba Willing to Seek Better Relations with US


Acting Cuban President Raul Castro says he is open to normalized relations with the United States, but warned Washington against taking any aggressive steps against Cuba.

Mr. Castro says he mobilized the armed forces hours after temporarily taking over for his ailing older brother, President Fidel Castro, because Cuba could not "rule out the risk of somebody going crazy" in the Bush administration. But Raul Castro also said Cuba is willing to go "out in search of peace."

The United States said Friday it has no plans to invade the Communist-ruled island. A State Department spokesman says the United States would like to see a transition from Cuba's current dictatorship to a democratic government.

Raul Castro's first public comments as acting president appeared in Friday's edition of Cuba's official Granma newspaper.

Raul Castro temporarily assumed presidential powers last month when Fidel underwent surgery. In the Granma interview, the younger Castro says President Fidel is recovering well. He attributes his older brother's recovery to what he calls Fidel's "exceptional physical and mental nature."

Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba in a 1959 revolution. The United States and Cuba have not had formal diplomatic relations since the early 1960's.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.