The top US and Cuban diplomats have met in Panama in the highest-level meeting between the two governments in more than half a century. The US State Department says Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met yesterday evening in Panama City, where the Summit of the Americas kicks off today. Officials described the meeting as lengthy. They say that Kerry and Rodriguez agreed that they had made progress and would keep working to address ongoing issues. No additional information about their meeting was immediately available.
As leaders from across the Western Hemisphere gather in Panama, all eyes will be on two presidents: Barack Obama and Raul Castro, whose expected encounter at the summit will mark a historic moment as the US and Cuba seek to restore ties they abandoned decades ago. While Obama and Castro have no formal meetings scheduled together, even a brief handshake or hallway greeting will be scrutinized for signs of whether the two nations are really poised to put their hostile pasts behind them. While in Jamaica on Wednesday, Obama signaled that he will soon act to remove Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, removing a stigma that has been a source of friction for Havana. Obama's move could come within days. (Read more President Obama stories.)