U.S. President Barack Obama Meets With Cuban President Raul Castro

Raul Castro and Barack Obama's historic handshake in Panama

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sat down on Saturday afternoon for talks in a meeting that made history as the first between the leaders of the two old Cold War adversaries for more than half a century.

On Friday evening, the two leaders shook hands. They met at The Summit of the Americas in Panama.

It was their first formal meeting in more than half a century, states the New York Times.  The meeting cleared the way for a normalization of relations that had seemed unthinkable to both Cubans and Americans for generations.

In a small conference room in a Panama City convention center on Saturday, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sat side by side.  Obama said he wanted to “turn the page” on old divisions, although he acknowledged that significant differences between the governments would remain.

“This is obviously a historic meeting,” Obama said shortly after the two sat down. “It was my belief it was time to try something new, that it was important for us to engage more directly with the Cuban government,” quoted the New York Times.

“Over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries,” Mr Obama told Mr Castro as they sat next to each other. “We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future,” quoted The Telegraph.

(Updated post)

Obama Will Meet Raul Castro Of Cuba In Panama

MSNBC

President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro spoke by phone Wednesday before leaving Washington for the President’s trip to Jamaica and Panama, according to CNN.

The two leaders will meet in Panama at the Summit of the Americas.

Obama is set to meet face-to-face with Raul Castro on Friday. It is the first time the leaders have interacted since their nations agreed to renew diplomatic relations after half-a-century of hostility, states CNN.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez have already met, according to Al Jazeera.  They met on the eve of the summit, on Thursday.

“It was the first time the chief diplomats from the two nations met since 1958, one year before Fidel Castro’s revolutionary guerrillas came to power,” stated Al Jazeera.