PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, April 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday arrived in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, for the fifth Summit of Americas scheduled from Friday to Sunday.
Obama will address a speech on Thursday evening at the opening ceremony of the summit, the first time for him, since his taking office in January, to show the policy change toward the Latin America from that of his predecessor George W. Bush.
"This summit offers the opportunity of a new beginning," Obama said in an opinion piece titled "A Summit for Change," which was published on Thursday by major newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago.
"Advancing prosperity, security and liberty for the people of the Americas depends upon 21st century partnerships, freed from the posturing of the past. That is the leadership and partnership that the United States stands ready to provide," said the president.
Leaders from 34 countries of America are expected to discuss and make decisions on issues of relevance for the Western hemisphere at the summit, which is themed as "Securing our Citizens Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability."
"The president is committed to building strong and productive partnerships in the hemisphere and believes the summit represents an important step toward achieving this objective," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs at a previous press briefing.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other senior administration officials will accompany Obama to participate in the summit.
The administration has realized that in recent years the United States has turned its attention elsewhere, has neglected its relationships in this part of the world, Jeffrey Davidow, Obama's adviser on the summit, told reporters in a special press briefing on Monday.
"We see this trip as part of the process of the United States reengaging with this hemisphere. This is not a one-off event," said Davidow.
Daniel Restrepo, Obama's adviser on Latin American affairs, told reporters that economic crisis, energy and climate challenges, and public safety would be addressed by the president at the summit and during his meetings with other leaders.
The issue of Cuba, whose membership in the Organization of American States was suspended in 1962, will likely become a topic of discussion at the summit.
Ahead of his departure, President Obama on Monday announced easing restrictions on travel and money transfer to Cuba, and opening green light to U.S. firms to explore the markets of telecommunications and satellite radio and TV services in the Caribbean country.
Although the decision made by the president and his administration has not eliminated U.S. trade embargo against Cuba imposed 47 years ago, it has been seen as a major policy shift from the Bush administration's hawkish approach to Cuba.
Analysts here believe that Obama's good will gesture to Havana would be useful to improving the U.S.-Latin American relationship, especially the tensions with so-called anti-America countries, such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
It has not been clear whether Obama would hold meetings with the leaders from the countries.