Pope Francis, who plans to visit the United States in September, might tack onto his itinerary a side trip to Cuba, the Vatican says, but it cautions the talks with Havana are at an early stage.
The Catholic Herald quotes Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi as saying Francis is "considering the idea of a Cuba leg."
The Herald notes:
"In what will be the Pope's first trip to the US, the Pontiff will travel to Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia in September. He will join a session in Congress and be hosted by President Obama in the White House.
"A visit to Cuba would be a historic addition to this itinerary. Pope Francis has already played a major role in the re-opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US, last summer writing letters to both Barack Obama and Raul Castro that eventually led to the release of US prisoner, Alan Gross."
Francis is credited with helping broker a breakthrough in relations between Washington and Havana following a decades-long Cold War freeze. Both of his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, also visited the predominantly Catholic island nation.