Describing their private meeting as “historic,” Obama said the two countries can end the antagonism of the Cold War era, although he said he would continue to pressure the communist-led country on democracy and human rights.
”We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future,” Obama told Castro as they met in Panama, where they were both attending a summit of leaders from across the Americas.
Speaking to reporters later, Obama made plain the two countries would still have their differences.
“We have very different views of how society should be organized and I was very direct with him that we are not going to stop talking about issues like democracy and human rights and freedom of assembly and freedom of the press,” he said.
The two men agreed in December to move to normalize relations, including seeking to restore diplomatic ties that were broken off by Washington in 1961.
Obama said he decided to overturn longstanding U.S. policy on Cuba because the old approach of open hostility and economic sanctions had failed to force through major changes on the island and it was time to try something new.
Since then, he has relaxed some restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba…see more