U.S. President Barack Obama has a busy day Saturday at the Summit of
the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago as he pushes for a renewed
partnership among Western Hemisphere nations.
Mr. Obama will
take part in four meetings Saturday. He first meets with members of
the Union of South American Nations and then takes part in three
At the start of the summit Friday, Mr. Obama
called for a new beginning in relations between the United States and
Cuba - a country not represented at the summit. Cuban President Raul
Castro has said Havana is prepared to discuss any issue with Washington.
Obama also reached out to another old adversary of the United States,
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. The two leaders shook hands briefly
Friday, and Mr. Chavez was reported to have said to the U.S. president
"I want to be your friend."
Mr. Chavez and other leaders at the
summit, including Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Argentina's Cristina
Fernandez de Kirchner have spoken out against the 47-year-old U.S.
trade embargo on Cuba.
The United States has
lifted restrictions on travel and money transfers by Cuban-Americans to
the island, but not the trade embargo.
The head of the
Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, says he will ask
his group to re-admit Cuba at the next OAS General Assembly meeting
this June in Honduras. Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 after
the organization said Cuba's Communist government was incompatible with
the OAS charter.
Besides Cuba, Mr. Obama announced a U.S.
initiative to boost lending and spur economic growth and recovery in
the Americas. He also proposed a hemispheric partnership to tackle
energy and climate challenges.