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Obama Calls For Thaw In Cuba Relations

It's great to see someone who believes in diplomatic engagement back in the White House, isn't it? PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — President O

It's great to see someone who believes in diplomatic engagement back in the White House, isn't it?

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues.

Mr. Obama’s remarks, during the opening ceremony at the Summit of the Americas, are the clearest signal in decades that the United States is willing to change direction in its dealings with Cuba. They capped a dizzying series of developments this week, including surprisingly warm words between Raúl Castro, Cuba’s leader, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Other leaders here said that in watching Mr. Obama extend his hand to Cuba, they felt they were witnessing a historic shift. And in another twist, Cuba’s strongest ally at the summit, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, no fan of the United States, was photographed at the meeting giving Mr. Obama a hearty handclasp and a broad smile.

Oh yes, and wingnuts are already frothing over that!

(...) Mr. Obama’s message was not entirely new; he has said in the past that he was willing to engage with Cuba. But making a public pledge before leaders of 33 other nations, many of whom he had not yet met, gave his words added heft.

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