HAVANA, July. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cuban President Raul Castro Friday ratified his administration's willingness to continue engagement with the United States despite a setback in relations between the two countries.
At the closing of the parliament's plenary session in its 8th Legislature, Castro expressed the island's desire to push forward negotiations on pending bilateral issues "on the basis of equality and the respect for sovereignty and independence."
"Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist by respecting their differences and promoting everything that benefits their peoples," Castro said, referring to the change of U.S. policy towards Cuba -- announced by President Donald Trump on June 16 -- as a "setback in bilateral relations."
Castro said that Trump's decisions ignored large sectors of the U.S. and most Cuban emigrants in support of lifting the embargo and normalizing bilateral ties, and merely satisfied a small group in Florida.
Castro recalled the previous U.S. administration of Barack Obama, who restored the diplomatic ties with Havana and made progress on issues of mutual interest "on the basis of bilateral respect."
"We demonstrated that it is possible to live in a civilized way despite our profound differences," the Cuban leader told members of parliament gathered for an ordinary session at the Havana Convention Center.
"We reject the manipulation of the human rights issues over Cuba. Our country has many achievements to be proud of, and we do not need to take lessons from the U.S. or anybody else," said Castro, affirming that any strategy aimed at destroying the Cuban Revolution "will fail."
"Cuba will not make concessions concerning to its sovereignty and independence, nor negotiate its principles," Castro added.
Formal ties between Cuba and the United States broke off in March 1961 due to ideological differences during the Cold War, and were resumed in July 2015 after more than a year of secret negotiations by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.
Since then the two nations agreed to cooperate in such areas as combating drug and human trafficking, transportation and protecting the environment.
Trump proclaimed during his presidential campaign that if he were elected he would roll back ties with Cuba due to human rights concerns and seek "a better deal with its government."
He fulfilled his promise in June by signing a set of measures in Miami that limit American business opportunities and travels on the island.