President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a historic visit to Cuba next month, speeding up the thaw in relations between the two Cold War former foes but igniting opposition from Republicans at home.
In the first U.S. presidential trip to the Caribbean nation in nearly 90 years, Obama will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, entrepreneurs, and “Cubans from different walks of life” during the trip on March 21 and 22, the White House said.
After decades of animosity following Cuba’s 1959 revolution, the two countries agreed in 2014 to move to reopen ties.
It was diplomatic feat that is likely to be a highlight of Obama’s foreign policy legacy along with the reaching of a nuclear deal with another long-time U.S. foe, Iran.
Although the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba remains in place, a presidential visit carries huge symbolic value and prestige.
“Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people,” Obama wrote on Twitter.