President Barack Obama will spend the first full day of his historic trip to Cuba Monday in face-to-face talks with Cuban President Raul Castro, as they move forward with “closing the book” on more than five decades of Cold War hostility.
The meeting in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution is the fourth between the two leaders in recent years, including a brief encounter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa in 2013 and a regional summit in Panama last April. Obama and Castro will toast each other Monday night at a state dinner in the palace.
The Cuban president was conspicuous in his absence when Obama stepped off Air Force One Sunday afternoon and onto the tarmac at Jose Marti Airport, making him the first sitting U.S. president to travel to Cuba in almost 90 years. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez instead led a small Cuban delegation to welcome Obama, his wife Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Michelle’s mother Marian Robinson.
The top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Charge d’Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, also was on hand to greet the Obama family.