Obama, Castro hold groundbreaking Cuba talks

March 21, 2016 8:48 pm
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US President Barack Obama (R) walks next to Cuban President Raul Castro upon his arrival at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016/AFP
US President Barack Obama (R) walks next to Cuban President Raul Castro upon his arrival at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016/AFP

, HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 21 – US President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro met Monday in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution for groundbreaking talks on ending the decades-long standoff between the two neighbors.

Obama, meeting Castro for only the third time for formal talks, was the first US president in Cuba since 1928.

Overview
  • Obama, meeting Castro for only the third time for formal talks, was the first US president in Cuba since 1928.
  • He was greeted by a military band at the Palace of the Revolution, the main government building since the 1959 revolution that turned Cuba into a communist state and Soviet client barely an hour's flight from Florida.
  • Obama, under pressure back home to show that his scrapping of more than half a century of US hostility to the Castro regime is paying off, then sat for discussions against a backdrop of tall tropical plants and the two countries' flags.

He was greeted by a military band at the Palace of the Revolution, the main government building since the 1959 revolution that turned Cuba into a communist state and Soviet client barely an hour’s flight from Florida.

Obama, under pressure back home to show that his scrapping of more than half a century of US hostility to the Castro regime is paying off, then sat for discussions against a backdrop of tall tropical plants and the two countries’ flags.

The United States has yet to fully lift a punishing economic embargo against Havana, and Cuba continues to restrict many basic freedoms.

But despite these differences, Obama and Castro – brother of original revolutionary leader and anti-US firebrand Fidel Castro – say they are ready to bury the Cold War-era conflict for good.

Obama, who arrived Sunday and began his visit with a look in driving rain at Havana’s beautiful old town, earlier laid a wreath at the monument of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

On Tuesday, he was to give an address carried live on Cuban state television, and then attend a baseball game between the national team and Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, before flying out.

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