Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cuba to top agenda at Americas summit: Trinidad Prime Minister

Macau Daily Times

Saturday, 21 March 2009

A summit next month bringing together US President Barack Obama and Latin American and Caribbean leaders will focus on Cuba, the only state in the region to be excluded, host country Trinidad said Thursday.

"Cuba is on everybody's lips," Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning said in Brasilia, after a meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"I think there is a meeting of minds as to how best the question of Cuba should be handled," he said.

Almost all Latin American and Caribbean governments support an end to the 47-year-old US embargo on Cuba that has crippled the communist island.

Manning stressed however that "we don't want to corner anybody" at the Summit of the Americas to be held April 17-19, "especially the US president, who seems to be honoring a number of commitments he has made" loosening US restrictions on Cuba.

He said that while Cuba was not part of the summit, "I have no doubt it will happen soon. I can't tell you when."

Manning said several other issues would be discussed at the gathering, but there were no plans to talk over the global financial crisis or include it in the final declaration.

Cuba's main ally in the region, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has called a summit of the much smaller Boliviarian Alternative for the Americas -- a would-be trade bloc comprising Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia and Dominica -- on April 16 in Caracas.

"There's no sense whatsoever" in keeping Cuba out of the Summit of the Americas, Chavez said.

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