The two leaders shook hands and held a joint news conference at the Convention Centre in Panama City at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City.
“It is for all of us in the Americas, a very historic and defining moment, one which we advocated a very long time ago,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“You will recall that Trinidad and Tobago, along with Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana, called for this.
“In 1972 we established diplomatic relations with Cuba and we have been amongst those leaders calling for the end of the blockade on Cuba, and for Cuba to be readmitted into the family of nations. We need to applaud the efforts of the leaders in the region for the part they played in making this happen, and for us in the Caricom, we have a lot also to be thankful for.
“Our forefathers before us, in particular the Father of the Nation, Dr Eric Williams, began that process which continued throughout consecutive administrations,” she said, reminding that only last year at the United Nations, she called for the end of the blockade against Cuba. “From what I hear today, it appears that President Obama is prepared to look at the second part of ending the embargo.
“The first part is taking place, but there is still a lot more work to be done.
“From hearing both of the leaders Cuba and United States speak, I think that is also in process and in the making.
I think it was a great day, but as I pointed out (in the plenary session), there was also cause for concern on another front, our neighbour, Venezuela,” she said.
“For Trinidad and Tobago, I feel very proud to be representing a great country here for the part Trinidad and Tobago played in making this happen today.” Inside the plenary session, Persad- Bissessar applauded the President of Panama for inviting Castro to the Summit.
“We are now well on our way to being a truly united family of nations in the Western Hemisphere,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said Cuba’s presence in Panama was testament to the success of sustained dialogue and the immense value of engagement at the highest level.
“Indeed, the pendulum is swinging and today we have turned a historic page in history books of the Americas.
“There will always be challenges among and between member States, but we can now be more confident than ever that diplomacy works.”