U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he walks away from Marine One helecopter on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, DC, 19 April, 2009. Obama returned to the White House after attending the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, along with the 33 other democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Western Hemisphere. (UPI Photo/Mannie Garcia/Pool) | License Photo
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, April 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday the just-completed Summit of the Americas was a starting point for regional dialogue and possible cooperation.
The president told reporters in Trinidad and Tobago there are no "junior partners and senior partners in the international stage."
"Countries are going to have interests, and changes in foreign policy approaches by my administration aren't suddenly going to make all those interests that may diverge from ours disappear," Obama said. "What it does mean, though, is, at the margins, they are more likely to want to cooperate than not cooperate."
The president said he expects there to be "very tough negotiations on a whole host of issues," not only with Latin American nations but Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. The global recession, pollution, energy, national security, human rights, immigration and drug trafficking were just some of the issues ahead, he said.
He said friendships with Mexico, Peru, Chili, Colombia, Haiti and Canada can be enhanced by a "new era of partnership," and that he had seen "potential positive signs" that relationships with Cuba and Venezuela could improve. Regarding Bolivia, he made a point of saying he wanted to make it "absolutely clear" he is "absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere."
Obama said words aren't enough -- deeds must follow. Toward that end, he said, the Inter-American Development Bank will increase its current lending level, and the United States is starting a microfinance growth fund for the hemisphere "that will make meaningful differences for businesses and entrepreneurs."
He also pointed to his proposal for an Energy-Climate Partnership of the Americas.