Obama declares he "seeks a new beginning" to relations with Cuba

Trading their warmest words in a half-century, the United States and Cuba built momentum toward renewed ties on Friday, with US President Barack Obama declaring he "seeks a new beginning" - including direct talks - with the island's communist regime. In remarks kicking off the weekend gathering of nations - of which Cuba was the only country in the region not represented - Obama repeated the kind of remarks toward the Castro regime that marked his campaign for the presidency. "The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba," he said at the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony, according to his remarks released in advance by the White House. "I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," Obama stated.