Obama announces date for historic visit to Cuba

US President Barack Obama announces visit to Cuba on March 21-22 in historic step towards normalisation of relations between two Cold War rivals

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Obama announces historic visit to Cuba next month.

US President Barack Obama announced on Thursday he will visit Cuba on March 21 and 22 and will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, in the first US presidential visit to the Island in nearly 9 decades.

"Next month, I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people," Obama wrote in a post on Twitter.

"[Fourteen] months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba - and we've already made significant progress," Obama wrote.

Obama had earlier said he would visit the Island if he were able to meet with political dissidents on the trip.

On Thursday he said, "We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world."

Obama will have the opportunity to meet with Castro during the trip, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, wrote in a separate blog post.

Officials on Wednesday had said the Cuba visit will be part of Obama's wider trip to Latin America. 

In December 2014, Obama and Castro announced their countries would normalise relations after a 54-year break.

In April 2015 Obama met Castro on the sidelines of an Americas summit in Panama in the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the two countries after more than half a century.

TRTWorld, Reuters