U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Cuba to have "peaceful, democratic change" on Sunday after Fidel Castro said last week he would not accept another term as president.
"The Cuban people, facing the legacy of decades of tyranny, merit our solidarity and support as they seek to construct a brighter future," Rice said in a statement.
"We urge the Cuban government to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners, respecting human rights and creating a clear pathway toward free and fair elections."
Rice issued the statement hours after Cuban army general Raul Castro was elected on Sunday as president of Cuba during a legislative session held at Cuba's Palace of Conventions in the nation's capital Havana.
Fidel Castro, 81, has been out of public sight since his gastrointestinal surgery in 2006.
Washington has imposed restrictive measures on trade with Cuba since 1962. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said last week the decades-old U.S. embargo on Cuba will remain in place despite Cuban leader Fidel Castro's retirement.