Obama Defends Handshake, Urges Cuba to Free Prisoners

Bolivian prez accuses US of assassination plot
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2009 3:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama defended his friendly chat with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and asked Cuba to free its political prisoners, the Wall Street Journal reports. At the close of the Summit of the America's today, Obama brushed off Republican criticism, saying that turning a new page with Venezuela and Cuba represents "an opportunity for frank dialogue on a range of issues."

Obama's visit with Latin American leaders produced more than handshake diplomacy, Politico reports. Obama promised more than $200 million in Latin American aid, including $66 million for Mexico’s drug war and $100 million for a fund to help the poor. One apparent surprise for Obama on the trip: Bolivian President Evo Morales complained that America had plotted to assassinate him, the New York Times reports.