Obama and Castro Turn a ‘New Page’ at Meeting in Panama

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(Newswire.net — April 12, 2015)  — After US president Barak Obama announced last year that US and Cuban relations were going to change, the news echoed around the globe with positive reactions, even in Moscow. However, the only negative reactions to lifting US sanctions against Cuba are coming from US Senate dominated by Republicans, who claim changing relations with Cuba is a mistake. Nonetheless, President Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro made history when they sat down to negotiate for the first time in more than 50 years.

“We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future,” Obama told Castro at the meeting. “Over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries.”

“We are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient, very patient,” Castro replied.

After the historical handshake, president Obama thanked Castro for the “spirit of openness”, AFP reported. The meeting took place at the Summit of the America’s, held in Panama City.

“The Cold War is over … Cuba is not a threat to the United States,” Obama told reporters. He also said, “there are still going to be deep and significant differences” between the two governments.

The 83-year-old Cuban leader Raul Castro responded by saying he is open to dialogue but warned that Cuba will not rush into anything.

“So we are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient, very patient. Some things we will agree on; others we will disagree,” he said.

The historical meeting is held in the spirit of trust, as the fourth out of five documents explaining CIA’s role in sponsoring failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. However, Obama’s administration still insists that fifth document remains undisclosed.

Prior the meeting, US State Department formally recommended removing Cuba from the US list of states that sponsor terrorism. Cuba has been on that list since the Caribbean island was added in 1982.

President Barack Obama announced in December 2014 his intentions to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries and lifting decades-long embargo. However, the strong opposition from Republicans has slowed the process.  

Meanwhile, the international community is still waiting for the promised closure of notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, which was opened in 2001 at a US naval base in Cuba. Obama pledged to close the prison in 2009.