President Obama and Raul Castro - level 3

President Obama and Raul Castro - level 3

16-12-2013 06:00

As President Obama made his way onto the stage to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, he extended his hand to Cuba’s communist leader Raul Castro, who shook it and smiled back.

The handshake is a rare gesture between the leaders that reflects Nelson Mandela’s spirit of reconciliation.

The only previous known handshake between US and Cuban presidents since the island’s 1959 Revolution was at the United Nations in 2000, when Raul’s brother Fidel shook the hand of the then US president Bill Clinton in a chance encounter.

But Obama’s gesture of friendship did not prevent him delivering tough words to leaders who, he said, some invoked Mandela’s struggle against oppression while quashing opposition and dissent at home.

Difficult words: pay tribute (to admire and agree with someone publicly), reconciliation (becoming friends again), encounter (meeting), struggle (fight), oppression (treating people cruelly), opposition (groups disagreeing with a leader), dissent (people speaking out against a leader).

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