President Barack Obama is vowing to listen and learn during a Summit of
the Americas, where he hopes to forge new partnerships among Western
Mr. Obama made the comments Saturday, the second day of the three-day summit in Trinidad and Tobago.
Just before a separate meeting with South American leaders, Mr. Obama
told reporters he looked forward to productive meetings to determine
how the region can work together more effectively.
Before cameras were ushered out of the room, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez, an old U.S. adversary, walked over to President Obama, handed
him a book and shook his hand. Reporters in the room say the book was
entitled "The Open Veins of Latin America," and is about Latin
America's exploitation by foreign powers.
On Friday, Mr. Chavez and Mr. Obama shook hands and Mr. Chavez is
reported to have told the U.S. president "I want to be your friend."
President Obama on Friday called for a new beginning in relations
between the United States and Cuba -- a country not represented at the
summit. Cuban President Raul Castro has said Havana is prepared to
discuss any issue with Washington.
The United States has lifted restrictions on travel and money transfers
by Cuban-Americans to the island, but not the trade embargo.
The head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza,
says he will ask his group to re-admit Cuba at the next OAS General
Assembly meeting this June in Honduras. Cuba was suspended from the OAS
in 1962 after the organization said Cuba's Communist government was
incompatible with the OAS charter.
Besides Cuba, Mr. Obama announced a U.S. initiative to boost lending
and spur economic growth and recovery in the Americas. He also proposed
a hemispheric partnership to tackle energy and climate challenges.