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Obama Says He Is Eager to See Cuba

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Cuba President Raúl Castro in the Oval Office, Sept. 18, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Obama Wants to Visit Cuba
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Before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office, he wants to visit Cuba.

But only if he can meet with pro-democracy dissidents.

Obama told Yahoo News on Monday that part of a deal to visit Cuba must include the chance “to talk to everybody.”

“I’ve made very clear in my conversations directly with President [Raul] Castro that we would continue to reach out to those who want…free expression inside of Cuba,” the president said.

The United States and Cuba ended diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961, but reopened relations July 15.

Obama said he hopes “sometime next year” he will see progress in Cuba’s human rights record. Then a visit can be made to the Caribbean island nation.

A visit to Cuba will show Obama a different side of the island. When he took office, he vowed to close the U.S. military’s prison at Guantanamo Bay. It holds 107 suspected terrorists. Not all were charged or convicted. Obama says he still intends to close the prison.

Congress is opposed to moving any of the Guantanamo inmates.

The last and only American president to visit Cuba while in office was Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge traveled there in January 1928.

I'm Jim Tedder.

VOA's News Division reported on this story. Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

conversations - n. discussions; talks

vowed - v. promised

convicted - adj. being found guilty of a crime

inmate – n. a person who is kept in a prison