President Barack Obama will visit Cuba in the coming weeks as part of a broader trip to Latin America, reports say.
Barack Obama will be only the second sitting US president in history to travel to Cuba, after Calvin Coolidge in 1928.
Republicans have criticized the visit, saying it should not take place while the Castro family is in power.
Washington and Havana restored diplomatic ties in July 2015 and the US relaxed travel and trade restrictions after a 54-year freeze.
Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both sons of Cuban migrants, said the visit was a mistake.
Asked whether he would go, Marco Rubio said: “Not if it’s not a free Cuba.”
Ted Cruz said Barack Obama would be acting “as an apologist”.
In December, Barack Obama told Yahoo News he wanted to meet political dissidents in Cuba to help “nudge the Cuban government in a new direction”.
Cuba’s government responded by saying Barack Obama was welcome to visit but should not meddle in the country’s internal affairs.
Barack Obama’s visit could coincide with the signing of a peace deal in Havana between the Colombian government and rebels from the Farc group to end that country’s civil war, due to take place by March 23.
The deal was encouraged by the Cuban government.
On February 16, US and Cuban officials signed a deal to resume commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades.
However, the Republican majority in the Congress has blocked Barack Obama’s call to end the longstanding trade embargo.
The embargo limits trade and also bans US tourists from visiting Cuba.
The US has decided to ease restrictions on business and travel with Cuba ahead of Pope Francis visit to the communist island.
This is the latest move by President Barack Obama to improve relations with Cuba.
The rules, which go into effect on September 21, relate to travel, telecom, internet-based services, business operations, banking and remittances.
US businesses will now be allowed to open up locations in Cuba.
Cuban President Raul Castro and President Barack Obama discussed the move in a phone conversation on September 18.
The changes come as the US and Cuba normalize relations after 53 years.
“A stronger, more open US-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike,” said US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.
“By further easing these sanctions, the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba.”
Authorized travelers will be permitted to open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba, senior administration officials said on September 18.
Close relatives will now be allowed to accompany authorized travelers going to Cuba for educational, journalistic, humanitarian or religious activities or research.
Officials said travel to Cuba for tourist activity is still prohibited by statute.
Companies will also be able to import Cuban mobile applications to the US and hire Cuban nationals to work on them.
Barack Obama thinks the best way to strengthen the Cuban people is through contact, officials said.
In July, Cuba and the United States formally re-established relations, and in January the Obama administration announced initial changes to the Cuba sanctions program.
Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba, and before Cuban President Raul Castro is set to address the United Nations, Cuba announced on September 18 the appointment of a US ambassador, the first since 1961.
Veteran diplomat Jose Cabanas will be Cuba’s ambassador to the US.
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