President Obama on Thursday asked Havana to make the next move to improve U.S.-Cuba relations. President Raul Castro responded hours later that his government is willing to discuss any issue with Washington, as long as it's a conversation between equals and Washington respects "the Cuban people's right to self-determination."

"We have sent word to the U.S. government ... that we are willing to discuss everything -- human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners," Castro said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosted Castro and other close allies for talks to show a united front in their first encounter with Obama today at the Summit of the Americas. Leaders of 34 nations are making their way to Trinidad and Tobago for the summit, a gathering of democracies where Communist Cuba is not invited. The United States is the only country in the hemisphere that does not maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba. AP