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Dario Lopez-Mills, Associated Press
President Barack Obama walks past the honor guard with Alvaro Aleman, Panama's Minister of Foreign Affairs, upon his arrival at the Tocumen international airport in Panama City, Panama, Thursday, April 9, 2015. Obama is in Panama for the VII Summit of the Americas.

1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT, 2 p.m. EDT)

Cuba says Thursday night's discussions between Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lasted nearly three hours and took place in "a respectful and constructive atmosphere."

The statement from the island's Foreign Ministry does not reveal details of the talks in Panama City, but says the two men agreed to keep the conversation going.

It is the highest-level face-to-face contact between officials from the two countries since the Dec. 17 announcement that Washington and Havana would move to restore diplomatic relations that were severed in 1961.

Senior U.S. State Department and Cuban Foreign Ministry officials have met several times since January. President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro are expected to cross paths later during the Summit of the Americas, which runs through Saturday in Panama City

12:15 p.m. (1715 GMT, 1:45 p.m. EDT)

The White House says President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will see each other on Saturday.

A formal meeting set for a specific time is not planned, says Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser. But Rhodes says officials anticipate the two leaders will have an opportunity to "see each other" and have a discussion Saturday, the final day of the Summit of the Americas.

Obama and Castro spoke by telephone on Wednesday before Obama left Washington.

They also spoke by phone in December, when both leaders announced their intent to restore diplomatic relations between their countries.

12:15 p.m. (1715 GMT, 1:45 p.m. EDT)

Amid their diplomatic dealings President Barack Obama and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela are overseeing some commercial business.

The two presidents stood by as the CEOs of Boeing and Copa Airlines signed a deal for the Panamanian airline to purchase 61 of the U.S. airplane giant's 737 aircraft. The companies say it's the largest commercial deal between a U.S. and Panamanian company in history.

Obama says it means 12,000 jobs in the United States. White House spokesman Josh Earnest followed up with a bigger number — 40,000 U.S. jobs that he said will be not just at Boeing, but engine-maker General Electric and other businesses involved in the supply chain.

The sale is a significant one for Chicago-based Boeing but by no means its largest. The biggest single 737-MAX order has come from Indonesia's Lion Air, which is seeking 201 planes although many analysts suspect the airline won't ultimately take delivery of them all.

The new 737-MAX jets have a list price of $106.9 million to $113.3 million, although airlines often negotiate steep discounts.

11:45 a.m. (1645 GMT, 12:45 p.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama says he has congratulated Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela on hosting what will be a successful Summit of the Americas.

Obama says Panama is a "proud democracy" and a symbol of the progress the Western Hemisphere has made in the past few decades.

His comments came after meeting with Varela before the summit opens Friday evening.

10:45 a.m. (1545 GMT, 11:45 a.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama has toured the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.

Obama made no comments as he looked over the polluted, greenish waterway that is a passage for ships crossing the Americas. There were no vessels in the canal as Obama made his visit, but Secret Service gunboats were positioned nearby.

Obama, who wore sunglasses and slung his suit jacket over his shoulder on a partly cloudy and humid morning, walked along a narrow pedestrian path that spans the canal from the control tower and toward a limousine waiting to whisk him to his next destination, a meeting with Panama's president, Juan Carlos Varela.

The canal is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar enlargement project.

10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT, 11:30 a.m. EDT)

A social activists' forum running parallel to the Summit of the Americas has concluded after three days marred by confrontations.

Commissions from the forum will deliver recommendations on issues including health, education, migration and civic participation to heads of state who are gathering in the Panamanian capital.

The activists' meeting has seen shouting, shoving and sloganeering by backers and opponents of Cuba's communist-run government.

Supporters objected to the presence of Cuban dissidents, who are not recognized as members of civil society back home but rather denigrated as "mercenaries."

Opposition leaders say the heckling shows that the pro-Castro camp is not interested in dialogue.

Members of the Venezuelan delegation have sided with the Cuban government supporters, and had their own run-ins with opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The White House has expressed concern over the incidents.

9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT, 10:45 a.m. EDT)

As the Summit of the Americas opens for business, Panama City feels like a ghost town.

Most businesses, schools and government agencies are shuttered for the day.

Normally clogged streets and thoroughfares are practically empty during what otherwise would be a chaotic Friday morning rush hour.

Armed police are stationed at every corner for blocks around the convention center where heads of state meet later in the day.

8:15 a.m. (1315 GMT, 9:15 a.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have spoken by phone ahead of an expected encounter at a regional summit in Panama.

The White House says the extraordinary call came on Wednesday, shortly before Obama departed Washington on his trip to Latin America and the Caribbean. Both Obama and Castro are in Panama City for the Summit of the Americas.

It's only the second known conversation between the leaders of the U.S. and Cuba in more than 50 years.

The first was in December, shortly before Obama and Castro announced plans to restore diplomatic ties. That process is currently underway.

The two leaders aren't scheduled to meet formally while in Panama but are expected to interact on the sidelines of the summit.

8:00 a.m. (1300 GMT, 9:00 a.m. EDT)

The Summit of the Americas in Panama recalls a Congress that South American leader Simon Bolivar convoked in the country in 1826, bringing together for the first time the United States and 10 newly independent Latin American countries. The U.S. was invited to that earlier gathering only at the last minute, owing to Bolivar's distrust of the emerging power and its expansionist ambitions in the region.

Some of today's issues echo those of 189 years ago. Cuba will be a focus of attention as it attends the Summit of the Americas for the first time. It also was a key point of discussion at the earlier meeting, with delegates looking to help the island and Puerto Rico achieve their independence from Spain.

One of the first agreements was to try to oblige former colonial overlord Spain to recognize the damage it had caused to the Americas. Modern leftist critics want the United States to do the same.

Marie Arana is the author of a 2013 biography of Bolivar. She says, "The tensions between the U.S. and Latin America have not really changed since the days of Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams."

One key difference, though: The current summit last two days. That early meeting lasted three weeks.