The Latest: Cuba blasts US for its travel ban on Raul Castro

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

Cuba is blasting the Trump administration for its “baseness and rot” as it denounces the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban to the United States on former Cuban President Raul Castro.

“This is an action that is devoid of any practical effect and is aimed at offending Cuba’s dignity and the sentiments of our people,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla told a gathering of world leaders Saturday at the United Nations. “It is a vote-catching crumb being tossed to the Cuban-American extreme right.”

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a travel ban on Castro and his immediate family on grounds of human-rights abuses, saying they would not be allowed into the United States.

Pompeo said the ban was in response to “gross human rights abuses” in Cuba and supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro in his crackdown on the opposition.

Castro is no longer president of Cuba but remains at the top of the Cuban Communist Party.

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11:15 a.m.

Syria is demanding the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces, saying it reserves the right to take action if they remain.

“The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria.” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday. “Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and should withdraw immediately.”

Over more than eight years, Syria’s devastating civil war has drawn numerous foreign militaries and thousands of foreign fighters battling for power.

Most of the country has returned to government control. But rebels and extremists still hold Idlib in the northwest, and the oil-rich northeast, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish groups.

10:25 a.m.

The Holy See is urging the international community to give special attention to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen to “put an end to the suffering of so many people.”

In a wide-ranging speech that he, like many speakers, dedicated to the theme of multilateralism, Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on also highlighted the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians as “an area of perennial concern.”

The U.N. General Assembly is scheduled to hear from Syria, which has been wracked by eight years of war, later Saturday.

Parolin also highlighted the dire political and economic situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and spoke up for the protection of the Amazon, which has been ravaged by a surge of fires.

Parolin also urged the world to do more to protect women and children who have been raped and victimized in wars. He did not mention the clergy sex-abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church.

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9:45 a.m.

Syria, divided, devastated and now in its ninth year of war, is expected to plead its case before world leaders at the United Nations. Leaders from Cuba and Mexico also will address the General Assembly later Saturday.

Syria’s plight remains one of the world body’s thorniest issues. But now that most of the country has returned to government control, Syrians worry the world has accepted the idea of President Bashar Assad ruling them.

Only the opposition-held bastion of Idlib in the northwest, and the oil-rich northeast, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish groups, elude Assad’s grasp.

Earlier this week, the U.N. secretary-general announced that a long-awaited committee that would draft a new Syrian constitution has been formed. The U.N. hopes that will put the war-ravaged country on track for a political solution.

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