US softens opposition to Cuba attending Summit of the Americas

Washington, Dec 6 (IANS/EFE) The US softened its stance Friday on Cuba attending the next Summit of the Americas in Panama City, saying that the summit would still be "credible" even if Cuba attended it.

The US also insisted that it would be focused on the issues to be addressed, as opposed to which countries attended the summit.

The Panamanian government have invited Cuban President Raul Castro to the gathering, which is held every three years.

"We certainly recognise Panama's prerogative as the host of the 2015 summit to extend invitations to whomever it chooses ... what we're focused on is less on who's invited and more on what's discussed," said deputy spokesperson for the US state department, Marie Harf.

"Certainly the conference can be credible" even if Cuba attends, she said when asked if the longstanding criticism of the communist-ruled island's human rights record by the US would strip the gathering of its credibility, or even affect US participation.

"You know we attend these summits. We think they're important ... and talking about human rights, democracy and all of these issues in the Americas should be a key part of this and that's what we're focused on," Harf said, although she added that there were no details on US participation in Panama available still.

"That's a decision (which) the White House will make," the deputy spokesperson said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest did not confirm Wednesday, whether President Barack Obama would travel next year to Panama, although he noted that Obama had attended the two other Summits of the Americas held since he took office in 2009.

The Summit of the Americas is an institutionalised gathering of the heads of state and government of the western hemisphere, where leaders discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted action at the national and regional levels, to address the challenges faced in the Americas.

The seventh Summit of the Americas will be held in Panama City, April 10 and 11, 2015.

Opposition by the US and Canada led to Colombia, the host of the previous summit in 2012, choosing not to invite Cuba to that year's gathering.

IANS/EFE

ddb/

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Dec 06, 2014 04:00:15 IST



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