On Saturday, President Barack Obama met with Cuban leader Raul Castro, bringing the disturbance in the U.S.-Cuba relations to an end. The event marked the first time in over 50 years that the leaders from the two countries met to discuss diplomatic ties.
The meeting held at a regional summit in Panama came as both nations look to resolve the Cold War enmity.
According to CNN, Obama said at the beginning of the meeting, “This is obviously an historic meeting.
“It was time for us to try something new. We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future.”
Among the actions the two countries will look to undertake – following their decisions to work on relations that froze in 1961 – are re-establishing the embassies in Washington, D.C. and Havana and lift the ban on trade.
In January, Obama asked the Congress to release Cuba of its trade embargo.
Josefina Vidal, head diplomat representing Cuba in negotiations with the United States following Obama’s announcement regarding normalizing ties with Cuba, said, “We need investment in Cuba.”
“We have been studying what a small country like Singapore has been doing … but in summary, it’s going to be a Cuban Model.”
According to Reuters, Castro said, “Let’s not fool ourselves. We have a lot of differences.
“In other words, we’re willing to talk about everything with patience, with a lot of patience.”
However, any scope of progress remains distant as Cuba is still on the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Following the State Department providing Obama with a review of the terror status, he is expected to inform the Congress about his decision to strike Cuba off of the list in the next few days.
“I want to make sure I have a chance to read it, study it before we announce publicly what the policy outcome is going to be,” Obama said.
“But in terms of the overall direction of Cuba policy, I think there is a strong majority both in the United States and in Cuba that says our ability to engage, to open up commerce and travel and people to people exchanges is ultimately going to be good for Cuban people.”
Although Obama’s meeting with the Cuban leader hasn’t been characterized as a formal bilateral session, it is the first time since then Vice President Richard Nixon met with Fidel Castro in 1959 that the top leaders of the two nations sat and discussed issues at the highest level.
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