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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on his way to the Summit of the Americas in Panama today, looking to speak with Cuba’s president and promote Canadian business ties with Latin America.

Raul Castro’s attendance at the summit comes as the U.S. and Cuba move toward normal relations after a half-century of hostility.

Three years ago, Canada and the U.S. were the only countries in the Western hemisphere to reject a proposal to invite Cuba to the summit.

However, Harper has apparently since had a change of heart.

A government source says nothing has been firmed up, but Canada would welcome the chance for Harper and Castro to have a face to face chat.

Canada, which has maintained an unbroken diplomatic relationship with Cuba for 70 years, played a key role in hosting its recent talks with the U.S.

Harper will also have bilateral talks with other leaders and make a series of economic development announcements involving several Latin American countries.

On the eve of the summit, U.S. President Barack Obama signalled that he will soon remove Cuba from the American list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The Canadian Press

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