US President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at a summit in Panama on Friday. This now sets the stage for a historic Saturday meeting between the pair, as the two countries seek to re-establish diplomatic relations.
Obama and Castro encountered each other in the midst of other foreign leaders at the Summit of the Americas, which is currently being held in Panama City. Photographs and videos from the event showed the two shaking hands as they greeted one another as well as nodding as they spoke.
Leaders of the United States and Cuba have rarely spoken over the past 50 or so years because of an American embargo implemented against Havana, which was put in place shortly after Fidel Castro led a socialist revolution in the 1950s. However, last year, the two sides announced that they would look to mend their strained relationship.
A video of the meeting between the two presidents was captured by Madelein Garcia and posted on Instagram.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan confirmed to the Huffington Post that Obama and Castro shook hands, but a White House official told Reuters it was “an informal interaction and there was not a substantive conversation between the two leaders.”
Regardless, the meeting was seen as yet another sign of thawing relations between Cuba and the US. Obama and Castro also spoke on the phone on Wednesday and are expected to meet again on Saturday, when they will discuss more substantive issues regarding rapprochement between the two nations… see more