US, Mexico team up on Cuba policy

President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed Tuesday to work together on U.S. plans to reestablish diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba after a lapse of more than 50 years.

The two leaders, who met Tuesday at the White House, discussed the next steps that would open up the communist island to more business and investment from the United States and Latin America.

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After the meeting, Peña Nieto said Obama made a "very audacious decision" to work toward thawing the long frozen relationship with Cuba and the Castro regime.

"Mexico will be a tireless supporter of the good relationship between two neighbors," he said.

Obama confirmed that he will participate in the Summit of the Americas in April in Panama but only if human rights and other concerns are on the agenda.

He said he hoped the policy shift would help Cuba "to move toward what we hope will be a more constructive policy but one that continues to emphasize human rights and democracy and political freedom."

Peña Nieto and other Latin American leaders have pressed for Obama to change their policies toward Cuba as part of their growing economic relationship with the United States.

"We have offered our desire, our hope to collaborate in this effort so that as soon as possible you can continue with this reestablishment of relations with Cuba and that you can accomplish all the purposes you have set up to accomplish," he said. 

They also discussed wrapping up work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership early this year, which includes 12 nations from Latin America to the Asia Pacific region.

U.S. policy toward Cuba has created friction with Mexico and other Latin American nations that are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

Overall, Obama said that the meeting "has given us an opportunity to continue to find ways to deepen those bonds" between the U.S. and Mexico, which faces a broad range of complex issues from trade to immigration. 

"We’ve discussed something that is uppermost on the minds of most Mexicans and Americans, and that is creating economic growth and jobs and prosperity," Obama said.