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Will potential US-Cuba thaw dominate OAS meeting?

This week's meeting of the Organization of American States could pave to way to Cuba's reentry into the group after nearly 50 years – and toward lifting the US embargo.

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When leaders meet Tuesday for the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Honduras, Cuba's possible readmission to the regional body after a nearly 50-year suspension is expected to top the agenda.

Some regional leaders, mostly left-leaning ones, are calling for a resolution to drop the suspension, arguing that it's a cold war relic. The US, Cuba's No. 1 foe, says that it is open to Cuba's membership as long as the island nation fulfills its obligations to guarantee democracy under a 2001 OAS charter. It could, in theory, go to a vote in the next two days, but most analysts say they believe this week's meeting will merely pave the way for a future compromise.

Still, it underscores the desire on the part of many Latin American countries to engage with Cuba and to force the US to listen to the regional consensus. "This whole issue is as much a symbolic issue about how the US deals with Latin America as it is an issue about Cuba," says William LeoGrande, a Cuba expert at American University in Washington. "Historically the US did whatever it wanted in the hemisphere and got away with it. Now Latin America is insisting that the US respect its point of view and play as an equal."

Is a thaw in the works?

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