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Obama-Castro meeting caps dramatic detente

US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro during a meeting on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas at the ATLAPA Convention center on April 11, 2015 in Panama CityFrom their handshake at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela to their historic meeting in Panama, Barack Obama and Raul Castro have gradually set aside decades of US-Cuban hostility to achieve a rapprochement long thought impossible. Obama had floated the idea several weeks earlier, when he said at a fundraiser in Miami that the United States needed to rethink its Cuba policy — a politically risky move in the anti-Castro bastion. What the world did not know was that behind the scenes, talks had already begun — in June 2013 — on restoring diplomatic ties severed in 1961, two years after the Cuban Revolution. According to the head of the Catholic Church in Cuba, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the pope helped nudge the negotiations through difficult territory when he and Obama met at the Vatican in March last year.

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