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MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. At the North and South American Cooperation Summit US President Barack Obama tried to start a new chapter in relations with the countries of the Western Hemisphere and to push ever more active competitors into the background again, polled experts have told TASS.
A two-day 35-nation conference of the North and South American leaders ended in Panama last Sunday. A one-hour long conversation between US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Fidel Castro made a sensation. The two parties agreed to breathe a new life into bilateral relations, frozen 55 years ago, at the level of diplomacy, tourism and economic cooperation. On the sidelines of the summit Obama had a word with the tireless critic of US policies President Nicolas Maduro, of Venezuela, and held a meeting with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, with whom he agreed on the Brazilian president’s visit to Washington — the first over two decades.
First Deputy Director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Viktor Kremenyuk, believes that the US president tried to use the summit of the Americas to adjust his foreign policy somewhat. "A couple of years ago he identified two priorities — trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Cooperation. In the meantime, since the days of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which proclaimed the Western Hemisphere a zone immune from intervention by European powers, the United States has regarded Latin America as its backyard, a zone of exclusive influence of the United States. But throughout nearly two terms of his presidency Obama paid greater attention to the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific Region and, of late, to Ukraine," Kremenyuk said.
"It looks like Obama, who at a certain point had let the events in the Western Hemisphere go out of control, made a decision time was ripe for addressing the problems of the neighboring continent, where new leader countries have emerged, where relations of partnership should be established, and a new style of communication shaped in relations with neighbours — exactly what we saw between the US President and the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil," he believes.
"Alongside the wish to strengthen regional economic cooperation the US Administration cannot but feel concerns over the problems of growing drug trafficking, terrorism and guerilla hit-and-run raids from impoverished Latin American countries. At the summit in Panama Barack Obama made it quite clear that the United States was determined to remain the master of its backyard," Kremenyuk said.
The director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Mikhail Delyagin, believes that the US Administration has failed to subjugate Latin America’s independent leaders, so now it will be trying to keep them in a strangling embrace. "Economic matters, although paling against the backdrop of US-Cuban reconciliation, featured prominently on the agenda of the seventh summit of the Americas. They are important in view of the overall economic slump in the region. In fact, the United States has in a sense lost America, which it had regarded as its backyard all along, to let China take the commanding positions. Apparently, Obama will now be trying to oust competitors, who have been advancing pro-active cooperation with the countries of the region," said Delyagin, a member of the international discussion club Valdai.
"At the moment Beijing’s lending to Latin America is far greater than that from the United States, the World Bank and Inter-American bank taken together. It has been making heavy investment in the countries of the region, too. Since the beginning of this century the China-Latin America turnover went up more than twenty-fold. China is behind the idea of the 40-billion-dollar project of the age - an ambitious Nicaraguan Canal project as an alternative to the Panama Canal," Delyagin said.
"Russia, too, has gained access to the region’s strategic industries in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s tour of Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and Brazil. In the war of sanctions Washington and Brussels have declared on Moscow a majority of Latin American capitals, as well as the BRICS countries, took Russia’s side. To change this situation somehow Obama will surely find one summit in Panama far less than enough," Delyagin said.
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