Obama on the Record: Summit of the Americas

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, guys. You guys have a seat — thanks. This is nice. This is a nice view, huh? Oh, it’s beautiful. Did you guys go out last night, by the way? (Laughter.) Chuck Todd, did I see you on the cruise ship? (Laughter.)

MR. TODD: That wasn’t me.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we just concluded a very productive summit. And I want to thank the people of Trinidad and Tobago for their wonderful hospitality and their gracious welcome. I want to thank Prime Minister Manning and First Lady Manning, his government, for the hospitality they’ve shown me and our entire delegation.

This summit has been held at a time of great challenge and great opportunity for the United States and the Americas. The consequences of a historic economic crisis are being felt across the hemisphere, putting new pressure on peoples and governments that are already strained. Migration to and from each of our nations has serious implications for all nations. The safety and security of our citizens is endangered by drug trafficking, lawlessness and a host of other threats. Our energy challenge offers us a chance to unleash our joint economic potential, enhance our security and protect our planet. And too many citizens are being denied dignity and opportunity and a chance to live out their dreams in Cuba and all across the hemisphere.

These are some of the issues I discussed here in Trinidad and Tobago with leaders like President Garcia of Peru, President Bachelet of Chile, President Uribe of Colombia, President Preval of Haiti, and Prime Minister Harper of Canada. The subject of many of these meetings and conversations has been launching a new era of partnership between our nations. Over the past few days, we’ve seen potential positive signs in the nature of the relationship between the United States, Cuba and Venezuela. But as I’ve said before, the test for all of us is not simply words, but also deeds. I do believe that the signals sent so far provide at least an opportunity for frank dialogue on a range of issues, including critical areas of democracy and human rights throughout the hemisphere.

I do not see eye to eye with every regional leader on every regional issue. And I do not agree with everything that was said at this summit by leaders from other nations. But what we showed here is that we can make progress when we’re willing to break free from some of the stale debates and old ideologies that have dominated and distorted the debate in this hemisphere for far too long. We showed that while we have our differences, we can — and must — work together in areas where we have mutual interests, and where we disagree we can disagree respectfully. We showed that there are no senior or junior partners in the Americas; we’re simply partners, committed to advancing a common agenda and overcoming common challenges.

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