Obama ‘to make historic Cuba visit’

Obama in the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 17 February 2016.Image copyright

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Mr Obama previously said he wanted to meet political dissidents in Cuba

President Obama is to visit Cuba in the coming weeks as part of a broader trip to Latin America, reports say.

He will be only the second sitting US president in history to travel to the island, after Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

US Republicans have criticised 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.

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Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both sons of Cuban migrants, said the visit was a mistake.

Asked whether he would go, Mr Rubio said: “Not if it’s not a free Cuba.” Mr Cruz said Mr Obama would be acting “as an apologist”.

In December, Mr Obama told Yahoo News he wanted to meet political dissidents in Cuba to help “nudge the Cuban government in a new direction”.

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Republicans say Mr Obama should not visit while President Raul Castro is in power

Cuba’s government responded by saying Mr Obama was welcome to visit but should not meddle in the country’s internal affairs.

Mr Obama’s visit could coincide with the signing of a peace deal in Havana between the Colombian government and rebels from the Farc group to end that country’s civil war, due to take place by 23 March.

The deal was encouraged by the Cuban government.

On Tuesday, US and Cuban officials signed a deal to resume commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades.

However, the Republican majority in the US Congress has blocked Mr Obama’s call to end the longstanding trade embargo.

The embargo limits trade and also bans US tourists from visiting the island.

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US and Cuban officials have signed a deal to resume commercial air traffic

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