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Published: Thursday January 30, 2014 MYT 2:00:02 AM
Updated: Thursday January 30, 2014 MYT 2:01:25 AM

Latin Americans pledge to respect Cuba's form of government

HAVANA (Reuters) - Latin American leaders pledged on Wednesday to respect the right of all countries in the region to choose their own political systems, a proclamation notable largely for accepting Cuba as the only one-party state in the western hemisphere.

Cuba is hosting a summit of 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC) who agreed in a declaration to "fully respect the inalienable right of every state to choose its political system."

They also agreed "not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state and to observe the principles of national sovereignty".

CELAC, which excludes the United States and Canada, was the brainchild of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and created as a counterweight to the Organization of American States (OAS), which has its headquarters in Washington.

CELAC's second annual summit, a two-day affair, concludes on Wednesday.

The OAS expelled Cuba in 1962 for being communist, and also suspended Honduras after a 2009 coup removed the president from office.

OAS foreign ministers voted to reinstate Cuba in 2009, though Havana has declined to rejoin the organization, and Honduras was readmitted in 2011 after a new, elected government came to power.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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