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Obama, Castro Meet in New York at UN

  • Margaret Besheer

Cuban President Raul Castro, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama talk before a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 29, 2015.

Cuban President Raul Castro, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama talk before a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 29, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met Tuesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Their meeting comes just weeks after the two countries opened embassies, re-establishing diplomatic relations after a 54-year break.

The meeting began in a friendly manner, with the leaders shaking hands and the diminutive Castro laughingly commenting on the U.S. president's height. He’s just over 6 feet tall.

The White House said the two leaders discussed the recent diplomatic advances and steps each country can take to intensify bilateral cooperation.

While the U.S. and Cuba have reopened embassies in the other’s capitals, full commercial ties have not been restored. In the meeting, Obama highlighted U.S. regulatory changes that will allow more Americans to travel to and do business with Cuba, while helping to improve the lives of the Cuban people.

Obama also discussed steps Washington plans to improve ties between the two peoples, and reiterated U.S. support for human rights in Cuba.

The two men also discussed Pope Francis' recent visit. The Argentina-born pontiff returned to Rome Sunday after six days in the United States and, before that, several days in Cuba.

This is the leaders’ second meeting. The first face-to-face meeting took place in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands before a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 29, 2015.

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands before a bilateral meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 29, 2015.

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