Obama and Raul Castro have historic handshake in Panama

havana-live-obama-castro-handshake HAVANA, 11 April  (AFP) The meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro will be the first top-level negotiations between the two countries for more than half a century.
Mr Obama has signalled he is prepared to take Cuba off Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The two leaders met briefly at the summit’s opening ceremony.
They shook hands in their first encounter since a thaw in relations began in December. But Saturday’s historic talks could be overshadowed by tensions between Venezuela and the US.
Ahead of the summit, Mr Obama told Latin American leaders that the days when his country could freely interfere in regional affairs are past.
Major hurdle
The US broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1959 after Fidel Castro and his brother Raul led a revolution toppling US-backed President Fulgencio Batista. The Castros established a revolutionary socialist state with close ties to the Soviet Union.
At past Summits of the Americas, which bring together the leaders of North, Central and South America, the US has come in for criticism for its embargo against Cuba and its objection to Cuban participation.
This seventh summit is the first which Cuba is attending. Much of the attention will be focused on the body language between the former foes. No meeting has been formally scheduled between the two leaders, but White House officials have indicated that substantive talks are almost certain to go ahead, AP reports. havana-live-panama-summit  havana-live-panama-summit The US president is expected to raise the issue of political reform in Cuba.
Meanwhile Havana is seeking an end to the US trade embargo and removal from Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Mr Obama has indicated he is ready to delist Cuba but it is not clear whether this will happen at the meeting or later. Cuba’s presence on the list has been one of the main hurdles on the way to closer ties between the two countries. On Friday, Mr Obama and Mr Castro joined representatives from 35 nations for the summit’s inauguration ceremony.
A marching band and children in national dress of the participating countries waved flags as the summit opened to applause.