( dpa )- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday urged Cuba to move towards democracy. The Havana government must release all political prisoners, respect human rights and create a clear path towards free and fair elections, Rice said in a statement in Washington.
The people of Cuba had "an inalienable right to participate in an open and comprehensive dialogue about their country's future" and to choose their leaders in democratic elections, she added.
Cuba's National Assembly- elected on January 20 - were meeting Sunday to elect a new 31-member Council of State. Ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro announced Tuesday that he would neither "aspire to" nor accept the positions of president and commander in chief which he held for decades.
He remained Sunday at the undisclosed location where he has been recovering from an unspecified intestinal problem since handing power temporarily to his brother Raul 18 months ago.
Raul Castro, who is seen as Castro's most likely successor, was in attendance at the first session of the new legislature at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana.