In Trinidad and Tobago Friday, President Obama will join leaders from 33 countries for a Summit of the Americas.
The communist country Cuba was not invited but is stealing the spotlight. After a nearly 50 year U.S. trade embargo, the two countries appear willing to talk.
Cuban President Raul Castro said he sent word to the Obama administration that he is willing to discuss everything from human rights to political prisoners.
Earlier this week Obama offered his own olive branch by easing travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans wishing to visit relatives on the island. He also moved to allow U.S. telecom companies to expand service there.
"I agree with the overall emphasis on moving towards dialogue and openness throughout our hemisphere. We stand ready to discuss with Cuba additional steps that could be taken," state department secretary Clinton said.
But on the same day Obama lifted travel restrictions on family visits, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cancelled its trip to Cuba after the communist government refused to issue visas to commission members.
The delegation was traveling to the island to investigate reports of some improvements in religious freedom in Cuba.
On other Latin American issues, Obama delivered a sign of U.S. support for Mexico's crackdown on dangerous drug cartels, saying the U.S. will do its part to help.
"We have to crack down on drug use in our cities and towns. We have to stem the southbound flow of guns and cash," Obama said in Mexico City, the first leg of his trip.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on Obama to ban the sale of assault weapons in the U.S. which was something the president supported during his campaign but now acknowledges is not politically feasible.