Barack Obama meets with Raul Castro as historic Cuba trip continues

President Obama has said "the time is right" to visit the country, 88 years after the last US presidential visit

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President Barack Obama with Cuban President Raul Castro walk during a welcoming ceremony at the Palace of the Revolution. Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP/Press Association Images

Barack Obama has met with the Cuban President Raul Castro today on day two of his historic visit to Cuba.

The two leaders shook hands, exchanged words and smiled for the cameras as they met at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana.

The two presidents held a "frank and candid" meeting this afternoon to discuss economic and democratic reforms.

President Castro called on the US to return Guantánamo to Cuba, as well as the end to a US economic embargo.

Obama said the embargo is going to end, but added the "path is going to continue beyond my administration" due to the need for a majority in the US Congress and Senate.

The two leaders also acknowledged their differences and disagreements on the subject of civil and human rights - with Castro criticising the US for not ensuring rights to free healthcare and education, and Obama highlighting their disagreements on issues such as freedom of speech and assembly.

President Obama is the first US president in 88 years to visit Cuba.

Yesterday, he was greeted by the foreign minister and visited the reopened US embassy in Havana.

President Obama spoke to Good Morning America about the trip, saying that "the time is right".

He adds that "although we still have significant differences around human rights and individual liberties inside of Cuba, we felt that coming now would maximise our ability to prompt more change".

The last US President to visit Cuba was Calvin Coolidge when he arrived in Havana back in 1928.

Air Force One arrived in Havana Sunday, carrying President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, their daughters, Malia and Sasha, and the girls' grandmother.

The Obamas toured old Havana in the rain yesterday, after the President greeted embassy staff and their families.

Tomorrow, the US president will address the Cuban people with remarks at the same theatre President Coolidge spoke at in 1928.

He will also attend a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team.