US President Obama confirms he will visit Cuba next month

He will be the first American president to visit the island since 1928

Barack Obama, Cuba, US, visit, Raul Castro, Havana, US embassy, US-Cuba relations

President Barack Obama (right) shakes hands with President Raúl Castro of Cuba during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama in 2015 | Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The US President Barack Obama has confirmed he will visit Cuba in March.

The United States officially re-opened its embassy in Havana last August, 54 years after last closing its doors.

The US formally dropped Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism last May.

And there are also plans for an expansion of travel, and expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from the US to Cuba.

"Fourteen months ago, I announced that we would begin normalising relations with Cuba - and we've already made significant progress", President Obama said.

"Our flag flies over our embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years".

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Chargé d’Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis watch as the American flag is raised Havana in August 2015 | Image: State Department photo/ Public Domain

"We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world".

"Next month, I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people", he added.

Cuba is located only 90 miles from Florida, but was subject to a policy of isolation by the United States in the context of the Cold War.

However, a warming of relations was seen in April last year - when President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro shook hands during a Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

Mr Obama will be the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

Former US President Calvin Coolidge, second from left, and his wife Grace Coolidge, third from left, are shown with the President of Cuba General Gerardo Machado y Morales, right, and his wife, Elvira Machado, left in Havana on January 19th, 1928 | Image: White House