President Obama in Mexico

April 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Obama continues his Latin American trip Friday, but it's his move to reach out to Cuba that's grabbing headlines and creating controversy.Though communist Cuba is not one of the 34 countries invited to a summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago later Friday, the Obama administration did extend an olive branch. "I agree with the overall emphasis on moving towards dialogue and openness throughout our hemisphere. We stand ready to discuss with Cuba additional steps that could be taken," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a significant step, Cuban President Raul Castro said his government was willing to meet with the U.S. on human rights, political prisoners and freedom of the press. "Everything, everything, everything they want to discuss, but on equal terms," said President of Cuba Raul Castro (translated from Spanish to English).

In Mexico City Thursday, Barack Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and praised his struggle against the country's violent drug cartels. "We have responsibilities as well, we have to do our part. We have to crack down on drug use in our cities and towns. We have to stem the southbound flow of guns and cash," said Obama.

In fact, more than 90-percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the U.S. and so Calderon is bluntly asking Obama to revive the ban on the sale of assault weapons; something the American leader supported during last year's campaign, but now finds politically unrealistic. "None of us are under any illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy."

President Obama admitted U.S. leadership with Latin America has a history of being heavy handed. He said he hopes to change that.

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