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Obama says reaching out to enemies strengthens US

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Associated Press - April 19, 2009 6:23 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is back in Washington, after a 4-day trip that took him to Latin America and a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders in Trinidad.

Before leaving Trinidad, Obama held a news conference in which he outlined his brand of world politics.

The president said reaching out to America's adversaries "strengthens" its hand and ensures the nation is a leader for democracy, not a lecturer.

Still, Obama made sure to inject some go-it-slow caution.

On Cuba, he said Raul Castro should release political prisoners and embrace democratic freedoms.

In Washington, both Democrats and Republicans say they want to see actions, not just rhetoric, from Cuba.

And Republicans are criticizing Obama for, in their view, chumming it up with Venezuela's leader. Nevada Sen. John Ensign tells CNN he thinks it was "irresponsible" for the president to be seen "kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez."

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