According to The Washington Post, Castro Near Death, U.S. Intelligence Chief Says:
"The Cuban leader did not show up as anticipated at a Dec. 2 national celebration in Havana scheduled to commemorate his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. In a brief speech at the event, Raul Castro imparted no message from his brother but said that Cuba is willing to open negotiations with the United States "to settle the long U.S.-Cuba disagreement."
In rejecting the offer this week, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters that the Bush administration will deal with Cuba's Communist government only when it shows a commitment to democracy.
During the period of uncertainty under Raul Castro, Shannon said, "the regime has actually become harder and more orthodox and is not in a position to signal in any meaningful way what direction it will take post-Fidel."