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Former President Carter to visit Cuba

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are departing Monday at invitation of the Cuban government
  • During the trip to the island, they will meet with President Raul Castro
  • Discussions will include new economic policies and ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations

Atlanta (CNN) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will travel Monday to Havana, Cuba, for a visit at the invitation of the Cuban government, the Carter Center announced Friday.

During the trip, which will last through Wednesday, they will meet with high-level officials of the communist regime, including President Raul Castro, and other Cuban citizens "to learn about new economic policies and the upcoming Party Congress, and to discuss ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations," the Atlanta, Georgia-based center said in a written statement.

The trip is being undertaken as a private, nongovernmental mission under the auspices of the not-for-profit Carter Center.

Carter last visited the island in May 2002, becoming the first former or sitting U.S. president to travel to Cuba since 1928. In a speech broadcast live on Cuban radio and television, Carter, speaking in Spanish, called on the United States to end its "ineffective 43-year-old economic embargo" on the island. He also called on then-President Fidel Castro to hold free elections, improve human rights, and allow greater civil liberties.

"Analysts said it was the first time in 43 years that citizens had heard any public criticism of the Cuban government, much less direct condemnation of human rights violations," Carter wrote in his report from the trip, referring to the time since Castro had been in power. "I anticipated President Castro would be upset, but he greeted me after the session."