Obama to meet Raul Castro, dissidents on historic trip to Cuba

President Barack Obama will meet dissidents and President Raul Castro in Cuba next month, the White House said on February 18, announcing a historic trip that will be another major step toward ending decades of animosity between former Cold War foes.

In the first visit by a US president to the Caribbean nation since 1928, Obama will meet entrepreneurs and people from different walks of life during the trip on March 21 and 22, but he is unlikely to see Fidel Castro, the former president and revolutionary leader, US officials said.

The White House hopes Obama's trip will help accelerate change on the Communist-run island and cement progress made under his watch, but Republicans at home complained that it would give legitimacy to Cuba's oppressive government.

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

 
After decades of hostility following Cuba's 1959 revolution, the two countries agreed in 2014 to move to reopen ties, but the US embargo on Cuba remains and Washington frequently criticizes Havana's human rights record.

The opening to Cuba was a diplomatic feat that is likely to form part of Obama's foreign policy legacy along with the nuclear deal he struck with another long-time US foe, Iran.

Officials decided that traveling to Cuba now rather than at the end of Obama's term would give them more leverage to make progress on expanding Internet access and opening up business opportunities for Cubans and Americans.

Obama regularly meets with civil society groups when he travels abroad, and officials said this trip would be no different.

Josefina Vidal, the director of US affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said the Cuban government is willing to talk with the United States about its concerns.

The United States has upheld a strict economic embargo on Cuba for more than 50 years, providing the Cuban government with a strong propaganda tool against Washington.

Add new comment

Related

France-Cuba relations progressing
France-Cuba relations progressing

VOV.VN - Cuban President Raul Castro is on a 2-day official state visit to France, the first by a Cuban head of state since 1995.

France-Cuba relations progressing

France-Cuba relations progressing

VOV.VN - Cuban President Raul Castro is on a 2-day official state visit to France, the first by a Cuban head of state since 1995.

US and Cuba to sign aviation pact on Feb 16
US and Cuba to sign aviation pact on Feb 16

Top US officials will travel to Havana on Feb. 16 to sign an aviation pact that restores scheduled airline service between the United States and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years, the US Transportation Department said on February 12.

US and Cuba to sign aviation pact on Feb 16

US and Cuba to sign aviation pact on Feb 16

Top US officials will travel to Havana on Feb. 16 to sign an aviation pact that restores scheduled airline service between the United States and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years, the US Transportation Department said on February 12.

Vietnam attends Cuba workshop on hero Jose Marti
Vietnam attends Cuba workshop on hero Jose Marti

A Vietnamese delegation led by Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for External Relations Vu Hai Ha attended a workshop held recently in Cuba to honour national hero Jose Marti.

Vietnam attends Cuba workshop on hero Jose Marti

Vietnam attends Cuba workshop on hero Jose Marti

A Vietnamese delegation led by Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for External Relations Vu Hai Ha attended a workshop held recently in Cuba to honour national hero Jose Marti.