At a Summit of the Americas, Barack Obama has left no doubt that Washington has changed its tune when it comes to foreign relations.
As well as calling for what he calls a new beginning with Cuba, the American President shook hands with the Venezuelan leader, a staunch US-critic. Observers say the symbolic move heralds a possible improvement in ties. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan President, said: “I am sure President Obama, just like me, doesn’t have any complexes that would prevent us from extending our hands to each other. I’m grateful for his gesture.” At the opening of the fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, Obama vowed more cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean. He said: “I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration. To move forward we can not let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba. I know that there’s a longer journey that must be travelled to overcome decades of mistrust.” Earlier this week Obama relaxed parts of a 47-year old US trade embargo against Cuba, which is excluded from this summit.