US President to make historic trip to Cuba
WASHINGTON, United States – United States President Barack Obama will visit Cuba next month, the first time any sitting American president has done so in almost 90 years.
“Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people,” Obama posted on his Twitter page.
He pointed out that 14 months after he announced that the US would begin normalizing relations with Cuba, significant progress has been made.
But National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the president will be pressing for more reforms when he makes the March 21-22 trip. The visit will come on the heels of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which saw the re-opening of embassies in Washington and Havana, more than 50 years after last closing its doors; and a recent deal restoring commercial air traffic.
“There is much more that can be done – by the United States, and by the Cuban government – to advance this opening in ways that will be good for Cubans, and good for the United States. That is why President Obama is traveling to Cuba,” Rhodes said.
“We want to open up more opportunities for US businesses and travelers to engage with Cuba, and we want the Cuban government to open up more opportunities for its people to benefit from that engagement.”
In response, the Cuban government said it was willing to talk with Obama.
“Cuba is opened to talk on any subject with the US President, including human rights,” said Josefina Vidal, general director for the US in the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry.
There has only been one other US president to visit Cuba while in office. In 1928, Calvin Coolidge travelled on a battleship to Havana to address the Sixth Annual International Conference of American States. There he met with the Cuban president at the time, Gerardo Machado.
However, 20 years after leaving office, Jimmy Carter also went to Cuba in 2002, and then again in 2011.