Obama Arrives in Cuba for Historic Visit

World | March 21, 2016, Monday // 09:03|  views

US President Barack Obama waves before walking off the `Air Force One` plane upon arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, 20 March 2016. Photo: EPA

US President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday, becoming the first acting US president to visit the island since 1928.

Shortly after his arrival, Obama delivered a speech at the reopened US embassy in Havana, where he identified the visit as “historic”.

During his three-day visit, the US president is scheduled to meet with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, with the two expected to discuss trade and political reform.

However Obama will not meet with retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

At the airport, the US delegation was welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodrgiuez, the BBC informs.

Obama's visit constitutes new progress  in the recent thaw in bilateral relations, which included the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana last year.

However hours before his arrival, protesters calling for the release of political prisoners were arrested in Havana.

The US president is scheduled to meek with political dissidents, including with the prominent dissident group of the Ladies in White, which brings together the wives of political prisoners.

However the visit does not mark a complete normalisation in relations as the economic embargo imposed on Cuba continues to be in place and can be lifted only by a vote in the US Congress.

Back in December 2014, Obama and Castro agreed to end decades of frozen relations and since then there have been commercial deals on telecoms, scheduled airline service, increased cooperation in law enforcement and protection of the environment.

Upon his arrival, the US president vowed to interact directly with the Cuban people and accelerate engagement between the US and Cuba after more than half of a century of hostility.

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Tags: US, Cuba, Havana, Washington, Barack Obama, Raul Castro, Fidel Castro, Bruno Rodriguez


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