President Obama Shakes Hands With Cuba’s Castro At Mandela Service

Source: Erin McClam / NBC News

Briefly laying aside differences hardened over decades, President Barack Obama on Tuesday shook the hand of the president of Cuba at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

The handshake appeared to be the first between American and Cuban presidents since 2000, when Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro greeted each other at a United Nations luncheon in New York, and only the second since 1959, when Castro took power.

It was Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, named president of Cuba in 2008, who shook Obama’s hand on Tuesday.

Moments later, in a eulogy for Mandela, Obama offered criticism of governments that embrace Mandela’s legacy of racial reconciliation but “passionately resist even modest reforms” to fight poverty and inequality, and that imprison people for their political beliefs.

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