HAVANA - US President Barack Obama pushed Cuba to improve human rights during his historic visit to the Communist-led island on Monday, publicly sparring with President Raul Castro who showed flashes of anger and hit back at US "double standards".
Obama praised Castro for openly discussing their differences but he said a "full flowering" of the relationship would happen only with progress on the issue of rights.
"In the absence of that, I think it will continue to be a very powerful irritant," Obama said in a joint news conference with Castro that began with jokes but was tense at times.
"America believes in democracy. We believe that freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are not just American values but are universal values," he said.