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Latest on Americas Summit: Obama, Castro speak by phone

Latest on Americas Summit: Obama, Castro speak by phone ahead of summit

Latest on Americas Summit: Obama, Castro speak by phone

8:15 A.M. (1315 GMT, 9:15 a.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have spoken by phone ahead of an expected encounter at a regional summit in Panama.

Jorge Leganoa is deputy director of Cuba's state-run National Information Agency. He says Obama and Castro spoke by phone Thursday evening.

The White House declined to comment.

Obama and Castro both arrived in Panama City on Thursday for the Summit of the Americas.

It's only the second known conversation between the leaders of the U.S. and Cuba in more than 50 years.

The first was in December, shortly before Obama and Castro announced plans to restore diplomatic ties. That process is currently underway.

The two leaders aren't scheduled to meet formally while in Panama but are expected to interact on the sidelines of the summit.

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8:06 am (1306 GMT, 9:06 EDT)

U.S. based Boeing has concluded an agreement with Panama's Copa Airlines for a $6.6 billion purchase of 61 airline jets on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas.

The deal for the 737-MAX planes will be signed during a meeting between President Barack Obama and Panamanian President Carlos Varela, who is hosting this year's conclave of Western Hemisphere nations.

Officials say the deal is the biggest between Panamanian and U.S. companies.

Copa says it will use the planes for its longer South American routes.

The 737 is the best-selling jet in the history of aviation. The MAX is a new version of it with more fuel efficient engines.

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Associated Press writer Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed to this report

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8:06 a.m. (1306 GMT;9:06 EDT)

The Summit of the Americas in Panama recalls a Congress that South American leader Simon Bolivar convoked in the country in 1826, bringing together for the first time the United States and 10 newly independent Latin American countries. The U.S. was invited to that earlier gathering only at the last minute, owing to Bolivar's distrust of the emerging power and its expansionist ambitions in the region.

Some of today's issues echo those of 189 years ago. Cuba will be a focus of attention as it attends the Summit of the Americas for the first time. It was also a key point of discussion at the earlier meeting, with delegates looking to help the island and Puerto Rico achieve their independence from Spain.

One of the first agreements was to try to oblige former colonial overlord Spain to recognize the damage it had caused to the Americas. Modern leftist critics want the United States to do the same.

Marie Arana is the author of a 2013 biography of Bolivar. She says, "The tensions between the US and Latin America have not really changed since the days of Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams."

One key difference, though: The current summit last two days. That early meeting lasted three weeks.


Updated : 2021-09-19 05:01 GMT+08:00