Cuban President Raul Castro says he is open to direct talks with the incoming U.S. president, saying he believes Barack Obama is an honest and sincere man who could improve relations between the two countries.

However, Mr. Castro says he is in no hurry, and is not sure Mr. Obama can change what the Cuban leader called the "overall hostile U.S. policy" towards Cuba.

President-elect Obama has said he would be willing to speak with Cuba's leaders.  But he also says he will keep the long-standing economic embargo as a way to push for democratic change.

Mr. Castro's comments, aired Friday on state television, came the day after Cuba marked the 50th anniversary of the revolution that brought his brother Fidel Castro to power.

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