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Drug policy and Cuba headline Summit of the Americas (+video)

The Sixth Summit of the Americas saw what Mexico's Calderón called a 'radical' change: candid conversation about differences over drug policy and Cuba.

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Leaders from the Western Hemisphere meeting in this colonial port city over the weekend failed to agree on some of the region’s most contentious issues, but for the first time, according to several presidents, topics like drug policy and Cuba were discussed with frankness.

Thirty heads of state from the Americas, including President Obama, gathered in Cartagena for a two-day meeting where the issues of drug regulation and Cuba's inclusion in future regional meetings showed more divisions than the unity that the Summit of the Americas was meant to promote. The summit concluded with no formal declaration of signing ceremony, but Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the leaders chose to discuss “the issues that unite us as well as the issues that divide us in a sincere dialogue,” behind closed doors.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón welcomed the fact that discussions were even held on these contentious issues, marking a “radical and unthinkable” change from previous summits. This was only the Sixth Summit of the Americas, but historically the summit agenda has been seen as dictated by the United States.

Cuba inclusion

President Santos said that the majority of countries present at the summit “support the participation of Cuba” in future meetings, while the United States and Canada stood firm on excluding the communist nation which has been suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS) since 1962 and subjected to a US economic embargo for half a century.

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