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Kerry to Visit Cuba for Human Rights Dialogue

  • VOA News

FILE - Flags of Cuba and the U.S. flutter in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 19, 2014.

FILE - Flags of Cuba and the U.S. flutter in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 19, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday he plans to travel to Cuba "in the next week or two" for talks on human rights.

Kerry made the statement before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I may be down there in the next week or two to have a human rights dialogue, specifically," he said.

Kerry, who went to Cuba last August to raise the U.S. flag over the American Embassy in Havana, told the committee that concerns about the human rights situation in the communist-ruled island still remain.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 23, 2016, during an appearance on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 23, 2016, during an appearance on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Upcoming Obama visit

The secretary's trip comes ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the nation next month, when he will become the first sitting U.S. leader to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years.

"The president hopes to press forward on the agenda of speaking to the people of Cuba about the future and obviously he is anxious to press on the rights of people to be able to demonstrate, to have democracy, to be free, to be able to speak and hang a sign in their window without being put in jail for several years," Kerry said.

Normalization of relations

In December 2014, Obama announced the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and begin the process of normalizing relations more than 50 years after they severed ties.

Diplomatic ties were formally restored on July 20, 2015.

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