PANAMA CITY (AP) -- A senior State Department official says the U.S. is prepared to welcome Cuba for the first time to a region-wide summit but wants heads of state to focus attention on the communist government's human rights record.
At the urging of Latin American leaders, host country Panama plans to invite Cuban President Raul Castro to the Summit of the Americas in April. Cuba was excluded from six previous summits because Washington said it didn't meet the region's standards for democracy.
The deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America, John Feeley, played down the significance of Cuba's likely participation. Speaking to journalists in Spanish during a stop in Panama on Wednesday, Feeley said that "it's not so important the guests at the table but the meal that's served."