News / Africa

    Obama-Castro Handshake Draws Attention at Mandela Tribute

    U.S. President Barack Obama greets Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    U.S. President Barack Obama greets Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    VOA News
    Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela generated some informal diplomacy and political controversy, alongside the praise for the late South African president.
     
    In a moment caught by television cameras, U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro as he walked to the podium. 
     
    The handshake was notable because the United States and Cuba have not had diplomatic relations since 1961, at the height of the Cold War, and the U.S. maintains a trade embargo on Cuba.  Relations have begun to thaw in recent years.
     
    U.S. officials say the handshake was not pre-planned.  But they say the two leaders did not have a substantive discussion, they only exchanged greetings.  White House aides say the United States still has "grave concerns" about Cuba's human rights situation.
     
    Obama also exchanged greetings with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, but U.S. officials say Obama did not see the memorial service as a "venue to do business."
     
    The two leaders have been debating an agreement of a continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw in 2014.
     
    The United States says Karzai must sign the pact by the end of this year or there will be no choice but to withdraw all American troops after 2014.
     
    Obama is popular in South Africa, and thousands of people in the stadium cheered when his image appeared on the giant screen overlooking the field. 
     
    In contrast, South African President Jacob Zuma was booed each time his image was shown on the screen.  Many South Africans have been angered by recent accusations that Zuma spent 200 million rand ($25 million) in taxpayer money to renovate his private home.
     
    In all, more than 70 heads of state and government attended the ceremony, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and India's President Pranab Mukherjee.

    Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that South African President Jacob Zuma is accused of using $200 million in taxpayer money on home rennovations. He is accused of using 200 million rand, or $25 million dollars, to rennovate his home.
     
    Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: John McAuliff from: Dobbs Ferry, NY 10533
    December 10, 2013 10:47 PM
    Presumably President Obama also shook hands with the Vice President of China where human rights are also a problem.

    If the handshake does mark the opening of a new relationship between the US and Cuba, it will be a fitting posthumous tribute to Mandela's record of reconciliation.

    Cuba is popular in South Africa because of its crucial military support. in the struggle against apartheid and its current medical assistance.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

    by: Fozi from: UK
    December 10, 2013 9:07 PM
    Both of them are phonies. One a Tyrannical Socialist Dictator, and the other a communist buffoon.

    by: viper4u2 from: USA
    December 10, 2013 8:09 PM
    Grave concerns about Cubas human rights situation ??. we are creating human suffering in Iran Libya .Iraq Afghanistan, Egypt & Lebanon , with trade embargoes & you worry about situations in Cuba you have got to be kidding me .Trade embargoes are an act of war against these people . Food should never be used as a weapon against anybody,don't forget how much suffering going on because of our government .

    by: Sunny Enwerem from: Nigeria
    December 10, 2013 6:28 PM
    Obama is a good man but do this world need a good man?
    In Response

    by: king from: harare
    December 11, 2013 7:51 AM
    a foreigner is always a good person coz african minds are colonised yu wl continue beggind from them praise your african leaders who are better than Obama who killed thousands if not millions in libya

    by: Elijah McWary from: Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
    December 10, 2013 3:12 PM
    The world would be a better place if they can be more Mandelas.

    by: Baberesi Denis from: Uganda
    December 10, 2013 3:08 PM
    obama is a good student he exactly did what mandela wanted!

    by: Godswill Ebuka from: Nigeria
    December 10, 2013 1:08 PM
    The handshake shouldnt generate much noise. To err is human to forgive is divine

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora