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World

US president welcomes overtures from Cuba

President Barack Obama told Latin American leaders at a Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago that he wanted to establish a new beginning with Cuba and open talks on normalizing relations.

Portrait of US President Barack Obama in a side view

Obama is taking a conciliatory tone with Cuba

Obama's conciliatory language has raised the prospect of the United States ultimately ending its 47-year-old economic embargo of the Caribbean island nation.

Leaders from several other countries, including Argentina, Nicaragua and Belize, voiced a general consensus in Latin America that the embargo should be scrapped and Cuba readmitted to regional bodies.

Obama said, however, that he was clearly not interested in talks for the sake of talking and expected reciprocal measures from Cuba. He said he was prepared to engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues - from drugs to migration, human rights, free speech and democratic reform, as well as economic issues.

One step closer

Cuban president Raul Castro, his arms outstretched, speaking at a the country's 50th anniversary celebrations on Jan. 1, 2009.

Raul Castro is open to the US' new tone


Cuban President Raul Castro on Thursday made an unprecedented offer to discuss these issues with the United States.

Equally startling was US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assessment just before the summit on Friday that US polices toward Cuba had failed.

Obama himself got the ball rolling earlier this week when he announced that Washington would lift curbs on Cuban-Americans traveling and sending money to Cuba.

At the Trinidad summit, the US president pledged additional support for the Inter-American Development Bank and unveiled a new Microfinance Growth Fund to shore up small business lending. Obama also presented a new 30-million-dollar (23-million-euro) initiative to fight drug trafficking and boost cooperation on security issues.


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