Obama calls for ‘deeds’ to follow very productive summit

April 20th, 2009 - 1:00 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Port of Spain, April 19 (DPA) US President Barack Obama hailed as “very productive” the Summit of the Americas that ended Sunday in Trinidad and Tobago, but stressed that a lot remained to be done.
“The test for all of us is not simply words but also deeds,” he said at a press conference in Port of Spain following the end of the summit.

Obama said that migration and energy were discussed along with more thorny issues like Cuba or US-Latin American relations more generally. The summit went some way towards “launching a new era of partnership between our nations,” he noted.

As to likely criticism within the US for his recent advances towards Cuba - to signal historic changes in a relationship that has been troubled for half-a-century - and Venezuela, Obama said that his mandate lies elsewhere.

“I don’t worry about the politics, I try to figure out what’s right in terms of the American interest,” he stressed.

On the key issue of Cuba - the focus of the summit despite not being officially on its agenda - Obama insisted on concepts that had come up in recent days.

“The policy that we have had in place for 50 years has not worked the way we wanted it to,” he said.

However, he sent a message to Havana, noting that policy changes cannot be unilateral, by noting that the issues of political prisoners, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and democracy in general “continue to be important”.

Obama admitted that while he did not “see eye to eye with every regional leader” on every possible issue, the summit in Port of Spain delivered an important result.

“We showed that while we have our differences we can work together.”

Obama again stressed the importance of “mutual respect” in international relations. However, while he did not shirk away from his country’s special responsibilities, Obama noted that even Washington cannot act alone.

“The United States remains the most powerful, wealthiest nation on earth, but we’re only one nation,” he said. “Problems cannot be solved by just one country.”

Obama said he had “very cordial” conversations with US critics like presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, beyond his highly-publicised encounters with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“President Chavez is just better at positioning the cameras,” he said to prompt laughter among reporters.

Security and the fight against drug trafficking were discussed during the summit, as they were during Obama’s trip to Mexico enroute to Trinidad and Tobago.

“We are acting boldly, we are acting swiftly and we are acting in concert,” he said of an issue that had brought Washington to a head with its Mexican and Central American partners.

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