Cuba 'prepared to defend itself if US tries to bring regime change'

Cuba's foreign minister warned that his country is prepared to defend itself if the United States tries to bring regime change by force, saying a conflict would jeopardize US stability. "We are not threatening and we never bluff," Felipe Perez Roque said Tuesday in an interview with the Associated Press. "We respect the United States, but we demand respect for ourselves, and we would defend our country from an attempt to have foreign aggression." He claimed that President George W. Bush's recent major policy speech on Cuba, in which the president challenged the international community to help the people of the communist island shed Fidel Castro's rule and become a free society, indicated the US might be prepared to use force. Perez Roque singled out a comment from Bush's speech last week: "The operative word in our future dealings with Cuba is not stability. The operative word is freedom."