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Obama To Visit Cuba Next Month

President Obama with Cuban President Raúl Castro during their historic meeting in April 2015 at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

Building on the opening to Cuba he launched 14 months ago, President Obama will visit the island as part of a multi-nation Latin America trip planned for next month.

The visit will be officially announced Thursday, a senior administration official confirmed to NPR's Scott Horsley.

Following secret negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba, Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the restoration of diplomatic relations in December 2014. A prisoner exchange was carried out at the same time.

Embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C., were reopened last summer.

On Tuesday the two nations signed an agreement to restore scheduled commercial air service for the first time in decades, as early as later this year. The U.S. Department of Transportation will open bidding by American air carriers for as many as 110 flights per day.

Word that Obama will visit Cuba brought immediate criticism from Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, both the sons of Cuban immigrants to the U.S.

Cruz said Obama should not visit Cuba while the Castro family remains in power. Rubio condemned the planned visit to an "anti-American communist dictatorship."

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