Arriving on stage at FNB stadium in Johannesburg to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama shook hands with dozens of other world leaders, pausing briefly to grasp the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro.
The greeting quickly sparked a strong debate on Twitter between those who praised and disagreed with the handshake, given that the United States does not share diplomatic relations with Cuba.
"On the streets of Cuba, the gesture was met with surprise and hope for reconciliation," reports CNN’s Athena Jones.
But a senior administration official said it was not "pre-planned encounter."
"Above all else, today is about honoring Nelson Mandela, and that was the President's singular focus at the memorial service," the official continued. "We appreciate that people from all over the world are participating in this ceremony. As the President said, we urge leaders to honor Mandela's struggle for freedom by upholding the basic human rights of their people."
Nonetheless, it was a moment of high symbolism. The U.S. and Cuba have not had diplomatic relations since the Cuban Revolution more than 50 years ago. The President has eased some of the economic embargo and travel restrictions that the administration of President George W. Bush strongly enforced, but relations still are tense. Cuba continues to imprison an American citizen, Alan Gross, who was arrested in 2009 on charges of attempting to destabilize the Cuban government.
Obama knew, of course, that Castro would be on stage. But refusing to shake Castro's hand would not have been in keeping with Mandela's legacy of reconciliation.
"It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth," Obama said in his speech at the memorial service.
It was not the first handshake between American-Cuban leaders. In 2000, at the United Nations, then President Bill Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, its first revolutionary president, and Raul's brother.
"The question now is whether this hand shake will change history or change nothing," Jones says.
It was so interesting to see the variety of locations and perspectives everyone shared for the #window challenge. We saw views of São Paulo, South Korea, Shanghai and St.Maarten. We saw sunshine, snow and even images of your coworkers sleeping. I didn't anticipate how creative all of you would get with it, but please keep it coming. It's great.
This week's winner is @jalayne57 (IMAGE ABOVE). This photo is both sunny and freezing at the same time! So artistic and a perfect #window shot. I hope it’s warming up a bit in northern Minnesota for you!
@jalayne57, I'm posting your images to my Instagram feed, the “New Day” Instagram feed and on our website, NewDayCNN.com. Also, our “New Day” digital team will be in touch to send along a thank-you gift!
And on to this week's honorable mentions...
@felipemohamad, your photo truly shows the reach of our Instagram network. Brazil is on my vacation wishlist. Can we come visit?! Maybe once those storm clouds pass.
We can’t decide if we’re jealous or excited for @glen_carty and this gorgeous island sunrise. Bring us back some of that warm sea air!
@Kennisschan took the challenge to the train! Only question we have – where are you heading?
And could someone please tell @Tonyp10 and his co-worker to get back to work? Thanks for playing along!
And a shout out to @TedWoodsCo for being one of the first to submit his #window video and (clearly) have a lot of fun with it! If you haven’t yet, you should watch his radio studio tour.
These submissions plus the many others, truly show how cool and unique our fans are, so thank you for sharing.
Now, for this week's challenge - #NewYearNewDay. Show me something you're looking forward to in the coming year. It can be as big as a resolution, or as small as a little treat.
PS- Please remember to use BOTH of these hashtags for submissions - #NewDayCNN and #NewYearNewDay
CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo says Ron Burgundy is great on camera, but an a**hole off it. See "Anchorman 2" in theaters December 18th.
Actress Jennifer Garner has been a major force behind California's new anti-paparazzi law-which increases the penalties for taking photos that invade a celebrity's right to privacy. She joined Halle Berry in front of the State Assembly in August, tearfully testifying to encourage its passing.
Now, Oscar winner husband Ben Affleck reveals why he's so protective of his kids when it comes to the paparazzi.
“In a new interview with Playboy Magazine, Affleck says a man who was allegedly stalking his actress wife, Jennifer Garner, and his family for years... basically used a crowd of paparazzi as cover to stand outside his daughter's pre-school,” reports CNN’s Nischelle Turner.
He says, "They used to take pictures of our children coming out of preschool, and so this stalker who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested. I mean, there are real practical dangers to this."
Steven Burky was arrested in the 2009 incident, charged with violating a restraining order when police caught him. Burky was found not guilty by reason of insanity and later sent to a mental hospital by a judge, Turner reports.
Affleck explains in the article, he can handle the attention but he says his kids aren't celebrities they deserve a little privacy,
He says, "The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it's sweet. They don't see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid's attention."