Summit of the Americas might lead to changed relationships

The finger food has been cleared, the lens caps are back on and the diplomatic delegations assembled in Trinidad for the Fifth Summit of the Americas have departed.

Now comes the hard part for the United States: using the momentum from three days of diplomacy to forge new relationships with two of Latin America's most problematic leaders.

Experts say President Barack Obama will use the buzz from last weekend's hemispheric summit in hopes of rebuilding strained relationships with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro – with baby steps that will improve relations without setting off a firestorm in Miami.

"The next step is confidence-building," said William LeoGrande, dean of the school of public affairs at American University. "Everybody has a hand they could play."

After three days of pressure from throughout the hemisphere to end decades of isolation on Cuba, Obama over the weekend reiterated that he's waiting for Castro to make a move to show he's serious about dialogue.

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