: First visit to Cuba by US leader in nearly 90 years is 'historic opportunity' says Obama
Politics09:29 Mar. 21, 2016

First visit to Cuba by US leader in nearly 90 years is 'historic opportunity' says Obama

U.S. president seeking to reverse decades-old policy of isolating communist island

Barack Obama is in Cuba on an historic visit. After decades of animosity the trip is the culmination of a diplomatic opening announced by the US President and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014.

Watch also President Obama to make a historic Cuba visit

Obama is abandoning a longtime U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba. He is seeking to make his shift irreversible. But major obstacles remain to full normalization of ties, with critics at home saying the visit is premature.

"...It's been nearly 90 years since a U.S. president stepped foot in Cuba. It is wonderful to be here. Back in 1928 President Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here. It only took me three hours. For the first time ever Air Force One has landed in Cuba and this is our very first stop so this is a historic visit and it's a historic opportunity to engage directly with the Cuban people," President Obama says. 

Watch also Obama to visit London in bid to keep U.K. in the E.U.

Obama will hold talks with Castro and speak to entrepreneurs. He will also hold talks with dissidents, address Cubans live on state-run media and attend an exhibition baseball game. But in spite of the warming of ties, Major differences remain. Most notably, the U.S. still has in place a 54-year-old economic embargo of Cuba.

Obama has asked Congress to rescind it, but the move has been blocked by the Republican leadership.

Read also Obama says Ukraine will always be vulnerable to Russian 'military domination'

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