Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Obama tells Havana embassy staff of ‘historic opportunity’

Stepping into history, President Barack Obama opened an extraordinary visit to Cuba on Sunday, eager to push decades of acrimony deeper into the past and forge irreversible ties with America’s former adversary. President Obama arrived in Cuba early Sunday evening for a historic two-day visit. His first steps on Cuban soil mark a sea change in a relationship that has been stormy for more than half a century. Rain didn’t keep the president from taking a guided tour of Old Havana, walking the cobbled streets past ordinary Cubans – something even Cuban leaders rarely do. Obama’s first stop was the American Embassy in Cuba, which reopened last year after more than 50 years. “This is an historic visit, and it’s an historic opportunity to engage with the Cuban people,” Obama said. In Cuba, changes works on island time – slowly. But since Cuban-American relations were first normalized in 2014, the pace has quickened. Travel restrictions have loosened, mail is being delivered directly and American investment is starting to trickle in.



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