Castro 'ready to meet Obama'

Cuban President Raul Castro says he is open to a meeting with US President-elect Barack Obama at a neutral location like Guantanamo Bay. In an interview with actor Sean Penn published by The Nation, Castro said he would not be willing to go to Washington and understood a US president would not want to travel to Havana.

"Perhaps we could meet at Guantanamo," Castro said. "We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift ... we could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay."

U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay is the oldest U.S. base overseas and the only one in a Communist country. Located on the southeast corner of Cuba, in the Oriente Province, the base is about 400 air miles from Miami, Florida. The US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay has come under intense scrutiny since it began to receive foreign detainees in early 2002 captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan.

The US has faced frequent attacks for holding inmates without trial and for their alleged mistreatment.

The US Navy has leased Guantanamo Bay since the early part of the 1900s and argues that the contract states that both sides must agree to end the arrangement. That's why the Navy has stayed in the bay despite demands by the Cubans to return it.

Obama has said he is open to holding talks with US foes traditionally shunned by the White House.