Cuban and US Presidents Meet for First Time in Over Fifty Years

The historic meeting takes place at the OAS Summit of the Americas, where Cuba has been welcomed back after 53 years banned for its revolutionary government.

(Telesur) – The presidents of Cuba and the United States met Friday for the first time since the 1959 revolution on the Caribbean island. The brief meeting happened as the 35 heads of American states arrived for the inauguration of the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Earlier Friday, the two heads of state had talked by phone, the second time since the countries announced in December last year a wind change for relations between the neighbors, separated by just 90 miles of water.

This is the first time that a Cuban representative has attended the Summit of the Americas since Cuba was expelled from the Organization of the American States in 1962, marking a significant change of direction. However, the island’s government insists that while the U.S. economic blockade against Cuba remains in effect, full normalization of relations will not take place.

“There can be no normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States if they don’t lift the unjust blockade which has caused a huge economic damage to Cuba” said Cuban Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Thursday.

Other key issues will be human rights issues — both sides accuse each other of committing rights violations — the removal of Cuba from the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors, and the solidarity between Cuba and Venezuela, whom the U.S. recently issued an executive order against claiming the South American nation poses a national security threat.