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By its absence, Cuba affects summit

By its absence, Cuba affects summit
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon of Colombia. UPI/Spencer Platt/POOL | License Photo

CARTAGENA, Colombia, April 16 (UPI) -- The Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, ended with some countries saying they won't attend future summits if Cuba doesn't participate.

Even though Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared the meeting of 30 leaders a success, observers said the summit ended Sunday with nothing really resolved about Cuba, The Miami Herald reported.

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Santos said leaders discussed behind closed doors "the issues that unite us as well as the issues that divide us in a sincere dialogue." He said the majority of countries at the summit "support the participation of Cuba" in the summit process; U.S. President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were the lone opponents.

Santos announced that the next summit would be in Panama in 2015, but countries of the ALBA, or the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, bloc of Latin America said Sunday they would not participate in another summit without Cuba's inclusion. The bloc -- Antigua and Barbados, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela, with Haiti as an observer -- also demanded the United States end its economic embargo against Cuba, the Herald said.

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon said it was noteworthy that discussions about Cuba and drug policy were even held, marking a "radical and unthinkable" deviation from previous summits, the Herald said.

Concerning drug policy-related discussions, participants agreed to direct the Organization of American States to begin a review of drug control policy in the region.

"We emphasized the possibility of exploring alternatives with consumer countries," Calderon said.

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