Castro defends and thanks Obama
PANAMA CITY - Cuban President Raul Castro has delivered a stunning defense of President Barack Obama in a speech at the Summit of the Americas.
Castro called Obama "an honest man" and absolved him of responsibility for the U.S. blockade against Cuba. He said there were many U.S. presidents to blame for that, but Obama isn't one of them.
Castro also thanked Obama for his historic decision to try to overcome the past, beginning with his willingness to consider removing Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
His comments came ahead of an expected meeting between Castro and Obama on the sidelines of the summit in Panama.
Shortly before Castro's speech, Obama told the assembled leaders that he's looking for a new relationship with Cuba that's not caught up in ideological arguments. He said the Cold War is over and he's not interested in battles that started before he was born.
The U.S. and Cuba haven't had diplomatic relations in more than 50 years.