US President Barack Obama with Cuban President Raul Castro during their meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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U.S. President Barack Obama met Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday in the highest-level talks between the two countries in more than 50 years, and the two men agreed to push ahead on improving relations after decades of hostility.Since then Obama has relaxed some U.S. restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba that are part of a longstanding U.S. policy of trying to squeeze the Caribbean island into changing.Obama and Castro, who spoke by telephone in December and this week before the Panama summit, sat side by side in a small conference room, the mood cordial, but businesslike. Obama, 53, now appears to be close to removing Cuba from a U.S. list of countries that it says sponsor terrorism.Taking Cuba off the U.S. terrorism list would would ease some financial sanctions against the island and accelerate the detente between Obama and Castro, although it is not clear how soon Obama will announce it.Earlier at the summit, Obama had declared his refusal to refight the Cold War battles while Castro rallied to his defense, absolving Obama of fault for the U.S. blockade in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the United States and Cuba.Speaking just before Castro, Obama acknowledged that deep differences between their countries would persist.
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