US President Barack Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday as they seek to improve relations after decades of hostility but said he will also continue to push the communist-led country to improve its human rights record.
Describing their meeting as "historic", Obama said the two countries could end the antagonism of the Cold War years.
"We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future," Obama told Castro as they met in Panama, where they were both attending the Summit of the Americas. "Over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries."
The two sat side by side in a small conference room, the mood cordial but businesslike. Each nodded and smiled at some of the comments made by the other in brief statements to reporters.
Castro said he would continue to take steps toward normalizing relations with Washington, and was open to discussing human rights and other issues.
"We are willing to discuss everything but we need to be patient, very patient," the 83-year-old leader said.
The two men agreed in December to try to restore diplomatic relations broken off by Washington in 1961, and since then Obama has relaxed some U.S. restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba.