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Thread: Obama 'seeks a new beginning' with Cuba, talks

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    Elite Member bychance's Avatar
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    Default Obama 'seeks a new beginning' with Cuba, talks

    COMMIE LOVER!!!!!!1111oneone

    There's a video too I saw a report of this on the evil librul news.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090418/..._ca/cb_us_cuba

    By VIVIAN SEQUERA and BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writers Vivian Sequera And Ben Feller, Associated Press Writers 1 hr 57 mins ago


    PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad Trading their warmest words in a half-century, the United States and Cuba built momentum toward renewed ties on Friday, with President Barack Obama declaring he "seeks a new beginning" including direct talks with the island's communist regime. As leaders of the Americas gathered for a summit in this Caribbean nation, the head of the Organization of American States even said he'll ask his group to invite Cuba back after 47 years.


    In remarks kicking off the weekend gathering of nations of which Cuba was the only country in the region not represented Obama repeated the kind of remarks toward the Castro regime that marked his campaign for the presidency.


    "The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba," he said at the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony. "I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day."


    Analysts cautioned that the week's developments were encouraging but do not necessarily mean normalized relations are around the corner.
    "This is a thaw, but it's a thaw that's going to take some time," said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. "I wouldn't look for any dramatic breakthroughs. There's a lot of distrust."


    Still, President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, in her remarks to the summit's inaugural session, won applause when she called on the United States to lift the "anachronism that the embargo means today," a reference to the nearly half-century-old U.S. ban on trade with Cuba.
    "Let's not miss the chance," she said, to build a new relationship with Cuba.


    The flurry of back-and-forth gestures began earlier this week when Obama dropped restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba, challenging his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, to reciprocate. Obama noted those moves and renewed his promise for his administration to engage with the Cuban government "on a wide range of issues," including human rights, free speech, democratic reform, drugs, immigration and the economy.
    "Let me be clear: I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking," the president said. "But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction."


    To that end, Obama met with Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez, a Cuban ally and fierce critic of the United States. The two met ahead of the summit's opening ceremonies. The Venezuelan presidency released a photograph of the pair shaking hands and described it as a friendly encounter.


    In a diplomatic exchange of the kind that normally takes months or years, Castro had responded within hours to Obama's policy changes this week. He extended Cuba's most open offer for talks since the Eisenhower administration, saying he's ready to discuss "human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners everything." Cuban officials have historically bristled at discussing human rights or political prisoners, of whom they hold about 200.


    The United States replied Friday, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offering: "We welcome his comments, the overture they represent, and we are taking a very serious look at how we intend to respond."
    And OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza said he would ask the 34 member nations to invite Cuba back into the fold. Analysts doubted Insulza known for his political caution would have done so without a nod from Washington, which contributes a huge portion of the OAS budget.


    "We're going step by step," Insulza said. He called on the group to annul the 1962 resolution that suspended Cuba because its "Marxist-Leninist" system was incompatible with OAS principles. If two-thirds of foreign ministers agree at a meeting in Honduras next month, the communist government will be reinstated.


    Obama, in his remarks, rejected what he called a false choice "between sticking to inflexible policies with regard to Cuba or denying the full human rights that are owed to the Cuban people."


    However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made clear that while Castro's new openness to change was welcome, the U.S. wasn't abandoning its demand for Cuba to start making concrete moves toward freedom.


    "They're certainly free to release political prisoners," he said aboard Air Force One as Obama flew into Trinidad. "They're certainly free to stop skimming money off the top of remittance payments as they come back to the Cuban island. They're free to institute a greater freedom of the press"
    And Castro didn't retreat from his criticism of U.S. policy, recalling Thursday that the United States has long tried to topple the government that he and his brother Fidel have presided over for 50 years.



    "That's the sad reality," he said.



    Said Peter DeShazo of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "These are very preliminary steps, but they are significant."



    The U.S. severed all diplomatic ties with Cuba on Jan. 3, 1961, just three months before exiles launched their disastrous invasion of the Bay of Pigs.
    The last significant effort toward talks were secret negotiations between an aide to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and an emissary from the Cuban Communist Party at a crowded coffee shop at New York's La Guardia Airport on Jan. 11, 1975. Negotiators met in New York hotels and private homes over several months, but the move died when Castro sent troops into Angola.



    Obama was criticized during his campaign for saying he'd meet with Castro without preconditions, and Castro said during a November interview with actor-director Sean Penn that he would meet with Obama, suggesting the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay as a venue.



    Any possible talks are likely to include involvement of senior Cuban diplomat Jorge Bolanos, head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. Bolanos and Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez greeted members of the Congressional Black Caucus when they visited Havana this month.
    Although neither side has set conditions to simply talk, Obama insists Cuba make another move before the U.S. takes more action.



    Castro, meanwhile, demands the U.S. trade embargo on the island be abolished, something Obama has said will not happen without Cuban moves toward democracy.
    The U.S. could balk at Castro's offer to free the about 200 political prisoners held on the island, along with their relatives, and send them all to the United States in exchange for five Cubans serving long sentences on espionage charges. On the list are several people convicted of violent acts, including two Salvadorans sentenced to death for Havana hotel bombings that killed an Italian tourist. Cuba currently has a moratorium on the death penalty.



    The number of political prisoners held on the island has dropped by a third since Raul Castro assumed power from his ailing elder brother in July 2006. The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation then counted 316 prisoners but as of Jan. 30 documented 205 such inmates, including 12 since freed on medical parole.



    Another stumbling block toward normalization is the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which forbids U.S. officials from restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba as long as either Fidel or Raul Castro is in charge.
    ___



    Associated Press writers Christopher Toothaker in Cumana, Venezuela, Bert Wilkinson and Nestor Ikeda in Port-of-Spain and Anita Snow in Havana contributed to this report.

  2. #2
    Elite Member bychance's Avatar
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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    It's about time someone took a sensible approach to Cuba. Sticking with the antiquated way we've had is stupid. I love the fact that Obama is going full throttle diplomacy in all corners.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
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    Excellent. America should be cooperating with its neighbors. I can only imagine how many people think Obama TALKING to a socialist is vulgar, but blowing them up to pieces is beautiful.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    It's about time. I'm no fan of Castro, but it's stupid to keep the 'cold war' going on with Cuba.

    Naturally, the GOP will see this as further proof that Obama is a commie/socialist/facist who is set to become the new Hitler.

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    Just from a selfis point of vue, I'd love to go to Cuba. They say Havana is gorgeous. Also, the scuba there is supposed to be fanastic. The moratorium on travel there has kept the reefs pristine.

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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    ^^Me too!! Have heard its quite beautiful.

    I am all for this too. Jesus he can TALK to them....

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    It's apparently beautiful but quite run down.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member bychance's Avatar
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    Obama defends greeting Hugo Chavez


    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,3878264.story

    [COLOR=#333333 ! important]The president says Americans want him to interact with foreign leaders and that the U.S. has nothing to fear from Venezuela.[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#999999 ! important]By Peter Nicholas
    3:53 PM PDT, April 19, 2009 [/COLOR]
    Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad And Tobago -- Rebuffing criticism of the warm greetings he exchanged with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, President Obama said today that the United States, with its overwhelming military superiority and need to improve its global image, can afford to extend such diplomatic "courtesy."

    Obama, in a news conference capping a three-day meeting of leaders from the Western Hemisphere, also said the U.S. must engage other countries through humanitarian gestures, not simply military intervention.







    Obama said it would be a mistake to measure the Summit of the Americas by specific agreements reached. But by listening to his counterparts and eschewing heavy-handed diplomacy, he said, he was creating an atmosphere in which, "at the margins," foreign leaders are "more likely to want to cooperate than not cooperate."

    A running theme of the summit was Obama's cordial dealings with Chavez, who once called former President George W. Bush the "devil" and who just last month dismissed Obama as an "ignoramus." The two were photographed smiling and clasping hands.

    At one meeting attended by South American leaders, Chavez made a show of walking around the table as the cameras rolled and handing Obama a copy of "Open Veins of Latin America," a 1971 book by Eduardo Galeano chronicling U.S. and European imperialism in the region.


    Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) told CNN today that it was "irresponsible" for Obama to be seen "laughing and joking" with the Venezuelan president.

    Obama dismissed such concerns. He said the 2008 presidential campaign proved that American voters want the president to engage his counterparts, whether or not they are avowed friends of the U.S.

    Obama said it "was a nice gesture to give me a book. I'm a reader." He added that the election was a referendum of sorts on the argument that U.S. solicitude toward foreign leaders could be seen as "weakness."

    "The American people didn't buy it," the president said. "And there's a good reason the American people didn't buy it, because it doesn't make sense."

    The U.S. has nothing to fear from Venezuela, a large supplier of crude oil to the U.S., Obama said.

    "Its defense budget is probably 1/600th of the U.S.," he said. "They own [the oil company] Citgo. It's unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States."

    That said, Obama aides were not so charitable toward Chavez. In a background briefing earlier, one senior official accused Chavez of performing for the cameras.

    The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said, "Anybody who's been at international conferences with Chavez knows that if there's a camera around, he's going to find a way to get in it."

    Impressed with Obama, Chavez seemed ready to reevaluate relations with the United States. He announced that he was considering appointing an ambassador to Washington, an idea he discussed over the weekend with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The two countries expelled each other's ambassadors last year.

    "We have a different focus, obviously," Chavez said on Venezuelan state television. "But we are willing. We have the political will to work together."

    Though Cuba's fate was not part of the official agenda of the summit, which included only democratically elected leaders from the hemisphere, many Latin American leaders pressed Obama to lift the United States' 47-year-old trade embargo on the island nation and normalize relations. Obama resisted.

    His administration announced beforehand that it was loosening travel restrictions on Cuban Americans wishing to visit family. But at this point, Obama has refused to go further, calling upon Castro to move toward a more open and democratic form of government.

    Lawrence H. Summers, the president's top economic advisor, said Sunday that the embargo would not fall any time soon.

    "That's way down the road, and it is going to depend on what Cuba . . . does going forward," Summers, who accompanied Obama on the trip, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    In his news conference, Obama said he welcomed a statement from Cuban leader Raul Castro last week that his government wanted a full dialogue with the U.S. about a range of issues, including human rights, treatment of dissidents and press restrictions. Castro also acknowledged that the Cuban government may have been wrong in some of its positions.

    "And so we're going to explore and see if we can make some further steps," Obama said.

    With three foreign trips now behind him, Obama was asked to outline the "Obama doctrine": the principles by which he will conduct foreign policy. The president stressed the importance of acting in collaborative fashion, rejecting the more unilateral approach taken by his Republican predecessor.

    He noted that Latin American leaders had mentioned to him that thousands of Cuban doctors were deployed throughout the region treating patients, the type of humanitarian aid that spreads goodwill.

    That, he said, is "a reminder for us in the United States that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction, if our only interaction is military, then we may not be developing the connections that can, over time, increase our influence and have a beneficial effect when we need to try to move policies that are of concern to us forward in the region."

    The summit exposed Obama to the personality quirks and grievances of leaders who've chafed under past U.S. presidents and policies.

    Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's leader, gave a 50-minute speech at the opening ceremony Friday in which he denounced capitalism. At a news conference, Bolivian President Evo Morales alleged that the U.S. had been complicit in attempts to overthrow him. Morales also wanted Obama to repudiate an alleged attempt to assassinate the Bolivian leader last week.

    In response, Obama said he wanted to "condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere. That is not the policy of our government."

    After spending much of the month steeped in international summitry -- first in Europe and then Trinidad and Tobago -- Obama seemed ready to get back to the White House.

    "Time to get home," the president said.

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