Castro, Obama Shake Hands as US-Cuba Thaw Quickens

Meeting Friday night at a summit in Panama, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands in what was the first direct meeting between the two nations’ heads of state in over 50 years.

It’s an historic encounter, but more important is what it represents, the very real chance of a rapprochement between the two countries and an end to half a century of US economic embargoes.

The next big step in that direction would be the removal of Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. There was never much real evidence to support this listing, but this is the first time in decades the matter has even been under consideration, with the State Department reported to have endorsed the removal.

Progress is such removals is often dependent on political convenience at any given time, and US officials are said to be pressing Cuba for guarantees on diplomatic access, something obviously totally unrelated to terror, in return for their removal.

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