Obama: Looking to the future; not imprisoned by the past (Video)

Following are words spoken by President Barack Obama at the first plenary session for the Summit of Americas. He discusses how the shift in U.S. policy can mean big changes for the entire region.

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We come together at a historic time. It has already been noted the changes that I announced to U.S. policy toward Cuba mark the beginning of a new relationship between the U.S. and the people of Cuba.

It will mean … more Americans traveling to Cuba, more cultural exchanges, more commerce, more potential investment, and most of all it will mean more opportunity and resources for the Cuban people. …

… We continue to make progress towards fulfilling our shared commitments to formally reestablish diplomatic relations and I’ve called on Congress to begin working to lift the embargo that’s been in place for decades.

The point is the United States will not be imprisoned by the past. We’re looking to the future and the policies that improve the lives of the Cuban people and advance the interests of cooperation in the hemisphere.

Now this shift in U.S. policy represents a turning point for our entire region. The fact that President Castro and I are both sitting here today marks a historic occasion. It is the first time in more than half a century that all of the nations of the Americas are meeting to address our future together.

I think it is no secret and President Castro I am sure would agree there will continue to be significant differences between our two countries…

But I firmly believe that if we can continue to move forward and seize this momentum in pursuit of mutual interests than better relations between the U.S. and Cuba will create opportunities for cooperation [throughout the region]…

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