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Obama’s historic move

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United States’ President Barack Obama will make a historic trip to his country’s old Cold War-foe, Cuba, in March.

Mr Obama will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro during March 21 and 22, while he will also aim to speak with “Cubans from different walks of life”.

“Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people,” Mr Obama wrote on Twitter.

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It will be the first time a US President has been to Cuba in almost 90 years.

The visit comes after a surprise announcement in December 2014 claiming the two nations would reopen ties after decades of tension.

Mr Obama said that while the United States still had concerns about human rights in communist-Cuba, it had already made significant progress in renewing relationships.

“We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world,” he said.

News of the trip was praised in Cuba’s capital Havana.

cuban missile crisis
Intelligence photos from the Cuban Missile Crisis showed Soviet missiles in Cuba. Photo: Getty

“Peace reigns in this hemisphere,” said Jorge Felix, a home painter.

“These are two countries who have confronted each other for fifty something years, and on this occasion the visit of the US president to Cuba is reason for happiness and rejoicing,” he said.

“We are going to give him a box of Habanos,” for a real taste of Cuba, said Luis Fernandez, a retired cigar roller, referring to a Cuban cigar brand.

Mr Obama’s administration has attempted to expand commerce with Cuba – only 145km from Florida – but still wanted to pressure the US Congress to remove the longstanding trade embargo with the Caribbean nation.

The Havana visit will also resonate in the campaign for the November US presidential election.

Two candidates in the Republican race, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are conservative sons of Cuban immigrants and have criticised Obama for renewing ties with Cuba.

First lady Michelle Obama will accompany Mr Obama for the visit.

Tensions between the US and Cuba have never fully cooled since the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

The incident began when the then-Soviet Union (now Russia) moved missiles to Cuba in a show of strength at the height of Cold War tensions between the two nations.

– with AAP

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