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A vintage car with tourists pass by the US Embassy in Havana, Feb 18, 2016. US President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would travel to Cuba on March 21

and 22 and meet with Cuban President Raul Castro in a trip "to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people". [Photo/Agencies]

HAVANA - A high-ranking Cuban official welcomed the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama Thursday, saying it was "a further step toward improving relations" between the Caribbean nation and the United States.

Josefina Vidal, head of US affairs from the Cuban foreign ministry, said at a press conference that the historic visit, the first by a US president since 1928, will offer Obama a chance to get firsthand information about the isolated island.

The visit, due to take place from March 21 to March 22, will provide Obama with "an important opportunity to directly appreciate the Cuban reality and everything we have been doing in recent years", which will "better the wellbeing of the Cuban people", said Vidal.

The White House website dedicated its frontpage to the visit Thursday. The announcement, headlining "President Obama is going to Cuba", came with a picture of a plane flying over the Caribbean island.

Obama also posted a flurry of messages on his Twitter account, saying the trip is "to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people".

The US top leader also said that "we still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly", including the issue of human rights.

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