WASHINGTON – Rejecting any deals to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba, the United States turned down Havana's offer to compensate Americans whose properties were nationalized 40 years ago, a Cuban official said Thursday.
The offer is not new, but was repeated as the United Nations votes on lifting sanctions that were put on the country after Communist dictator Fidel Castro took over the island in 1959.
The United Nations voted earlier this week 167-3 in favor of a resolution calling on the United States to lift the sanctions. The United States, Israel and the Marshall Islands were the sole "no" votes. Latvia, Micronesia, and Nicaragua abstained.
Cuba is also trying to purchase food products from the United States as part of a humanitarian relief effort following a hurricane this month, said foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque. Arrangements have not been made, Prez Roque said, though the United States government has suggested it would allow sales of grains, medicine and raw materials for the first time in 40 years.
The U.S. has been demanding compensation for seized properties for years, something Cuba says it is happy to provide in exchange for lifting the embargo and the payment of $181 billion to Cuba for damages the country has suffered as a result of the embargo. In 1999, a Cuban court found the United States liable for that amount.
The United States rejects any linkage between the compensation issue and the embargo and says international law demands compensation for expropriated properties.
The U.S. government has certified 5,911 property claims by U.S. citizens against the Cuban government. It does not accept Cuba's demand for damages resulting from the embargo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.