No more 'meddling' in Latin America: Obama

PANAMA - US President Barack Obama has told Latin American leaders that the days when his country could freely interfere in regional affairs are past.

He was speaking just before the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

Mr Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro shook hands as the opening ceremony began, their first encounter since a December detente.

But their historic formal talks due on Saturday could be overshadowed by tensions between Venezuela and the US.

Mr Obama told a forum of civil society leaders in Panama City that "the days in which our agenda in this hemisphere presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past".

At past Summits of the Americas, which bring together the leaders of North, Central and South America, the US has come in for criticism for its embargo against Cuba and its objection to having Cuba participate in the gatherings.

This seventh summit is the first which Cuba will attend and much of the attention will be focussed on the body language between the former foes.

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