Castro says end of US 'blockade,' Gitmo return needed to normalize ties

US President Barack Obama (L) and Cuban President Raul Castro meet at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Havana (AFP) - Cuba's Communist President Raul Castro on Monday stood next to Barack Obama and hailed his opposition to a long-standing economic "blockade," but said it would need to end before ties are fully normalized.

Setting out the conditions for ending long-standing Cold War enmity, Castro said ending the US embargo and returning Guantanamo to Cuba were necessary steps.

"There are profound differences between our countries that will not go away," he said, while vowing to focus on "those things that bring us closer."