The White House announced on Friday (April 10) that President Barack Obama recently spoke on the phone with Cuban President Raul Castro, shortly before Obama traveled to Panama. In Panama, the two leaders will meet face-to-face -- a historical move by both nations.
The face-to-face meeting is expected to take place on Saturday (April 11) at the Summit of the Americas, a top political meeting of leaders in North, South and Central American countries. This is the seventh summit, but the first where Cuba is invited, ABC News reported.
The meeting also coincides with reports of the Obama administration looking to remove Cuba from a list of countries who are sponsors of terrorism, a list that includes nations like Syria and Sudan. President Obama referenced the ongoing process of removing Cuba from the list in a statement from Jamaica on Thursday (April 9).
“Throughout this process, our emphasis has been on the facts," Obama said. "We want to make sure that, given this is a powerful tool to isolate those countries that genuinely do support terrorism, that when we make those designations we’ve got strong evidence that’s the case, and as circumstances change that list will change, as well."
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in Panama City on Thursday, showcasing yet another sign of approval from the Obama administration in installing Cuba back into the international community.
The first sign of progress occurred in December 2014, when the Obama administration revealed that Americans would be able to travel to Cuba in the future and removed the five-decade-year-old embargos against the nation. President Obama is the first president since before the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis to not actively attempt to overthrow the Cuban government, run by the Castro family.
“We don’t want to be imprisoned by the past. When something doesn’t work for 50 years, you don’t just keep on doing it. You try something new,” President Obama said on Thursday from Jamaica.
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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/The White House – Pete Souza