WASHINGTON(TIP): President Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. President to visit Cuba in 88 years, when he visits Havana, Cuba in March as part of a broader trip to Latin America.
He will be only the second sitting US president in history to travel to the island’s capital of Havana.
US Republicans have criticized the visit, saying it should not take place while the Castro family is in power.
Washington and Havana restored diplomatic ties last July and the US relaxed travel and trade restrictions after a 54-year freeze.
The US president confirmed his Cuba trip in a post on Twitter, saying: “14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba – and we’ve already made significant progress,” he tweeted. “Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years.”
“We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world,” he tweeted. “Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.”
He will be joined by his wife, Michelle, travelling to the island on 21 to 22 March, before embarking on a two-day visit to Argentina, the White House said in a statement.
“This historic visit – the first by a sitting US president in nearly 90 years – is another demonstration of the president’s commitment to chart a new course for US-Cuban relations and connect US and Cuban citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information.”
He will be the first US president to visit Havana since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 – President Harry Truman visited the US-controlled Guantanamo Bay in 1948, and former President Jimmy Carter has visited Cuba several times since leaving office.
The White House also announced that the President will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as members of civil society, entrepreneurs and “Cubans from all walks of life”