The handshake with Castro

April 13, 2015 7:34 PM

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President Barack Obama took a historic step toward normalizing relations with Cuba at the biannual Summit of the Americas in Panama on Saturday when he sat down with Cuban President Raúl Castro for the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the two countries in half a century. The two men didn't agree on everything, which was only to be expected. But the mere fact that they could sit in the same room and discuss their differences — and shake hands afterward — offered hope that 50 years of unremitting enmity and distrust between the two nations may be nearing an end. A change in direction in the U.S. strategy toward Cuba is long overdue.

It's been clear for a long time that the U.S. trade embargo and its effort to isolate Cuba diplomatically were unlikely to succeed in either toppling that country's communist government or bringing greater economic and political freedom to ordinary Cubans. Yet as Mr. Obama noted at the summit's conc...

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