18 February, 2016
President Barack Obama will visit Cuba on March 21 and 22, the White House announced Thursday.
It will be the first time in nearly 90 years that a U.S. president visits Havana, the capital of the island nation.
Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have improved in the past 14 months. The countries have re-opened embassies, and commercial airlines will fly between the two countries soon.
Plus, the U.S. removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have talked via telephone and have met in person twice. Obama will meet with Castro during the March visit. He will also meet with Cuban activists who work for social causes.
While normalizing relations, Obama said his administration promises to monitor Cuba's communist government on human rights issues.
"We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly," Obama wrote on Twitter. "America will always stand for human rights around the world."
The American presidency and Cuba had a sketchy relationship during the first half of the 20th century. President Calvin Coolidge visited Havana in 1928. President Harry Truman stopped by U.S.-controlled Guantanamo Bay and its naval base in 1948.
First Lady Michelle Obama will accompany the president on the Latin American trip. The Obamas will travel to Argentina after Cuba.
I'm Jim Dresbach.
William Gallo reported on this story for VOANews. Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
sponsor – n. someone who takes the responsibility for someone or something
communist – n. a person who believes in communism or is a member of a political party that supports communism
normalizing – v. to bring someone or something back to a usual or expected state or condition
sketchy – adj. likely to be bad or dangerous
Latin America – n. South America and North America south of the U.S.