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Venezuela President in Ally Cuba ahead of Obama Visit

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro moved Friday to ensure strong relations with his closest regional ally Cuba, two days before a historic visit by his biggest adversary, U.S. President Barack Obama.

Maduro landed early Friday morning at Havana airport, state television showed. State newspaper Granma said he was due to meet later with Cuba's President Raul Castro.

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U.S. Further Eases Cuba Restrictions ahead of Obama Visit

The United States further eased travel and trade restrictions with Cuba Tuesday, just days before a historic visit to the communist-ruled island by President Barack Obama.

The U.S. Treasury said the rule changes will make it easier for Americans to travel to the island for "educational" purposes, for U.S. banks to provide more services in the Caribbean country, and U.S. businesses to work more freely there.

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EU, Cuba Sign Deal to Normalize Ties

The EU and Cuba signed a deal Friday to normalize relations, including a deal on the delicate issue of human rights -- a breakthrough just ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to the island.

EU and Cuban officials signed the agreement, the culmination of nearly two years of intense negotiations, during a visit to Havana by European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

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Cuba Says Obama 'Welcome' but Shouldn't Expect much

Cuba's state newspaper said Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama will be warmly welcomed when he makes a historic visit later this month but warned him not to expect political concessions.

"The U.S. leader will be welcomed by the government of Cuba and its people with the hospitality that distinguishes them and will be treated with all consideration and respect," official daily Granma said in an editorial.

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U.S. Envoy Condemns Cuba Rights Record ahead of Obama Trip

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday condemned a surge in arrests of activists in Cuba, three weeks before President Barack Obama's historic trip to the Communist-ruled island.

Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council, Blinken said Obama will stress the need for democracy and free political expression in Cuba during the March 21-22 visit, the first by a U.S. president since 1928.

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Obama to Visit Cuba in March, Pledges to Address Human Rights

Barack Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in almost a century next month, a symbolic visit that will cast off one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

The White House announced that Obama and First Lady Michele Obama will travel to the Communist-controlled island March 21-22.

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U.S. Authorizes up to 110 Daily Flights to Cuba

The United States and Cuba will sign a bilateral agreement Tuesday authorizing up to 110 scheduled daily commercial flights to Havana and nine other destinations on the communist island.

The deal restores regular flights between the two countries for the first time in more than half a century.

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Fidel Castro Hails Catholic-Orthodox Talks in Cuba

Cuba's former revolutionary president Fidel Castro on Monday said the historic meeting in his country between the heads of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches raised worldwide hope for peace.

"The singular importance of the meeting between Pope Francis and His Holiness Kirill in Havana is that it raised hope for people around the world," Castro wrote in an article in state media.

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Pope in Mexico after Historic Talks with Russian Patriarch

Mexico greeted Pope Francis on Friday with mariachi music and throngs of Catholic faithful lining the streets after he held historic talks with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Cuba.

President Enrique Pena Nieto welcomed Francis at the airport while a mariachi band played before he climbed into the Popemobile to wave at crowds across the capital of the world's second largest Catholic country.

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Pope Francis to Have Historic Meeting with Russian Patriarch in Cuba

Pope Francis will meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba next week in a historic first meeting between the heads of the two largest Christian churches, the Vatican announced Friday.

The meeting will be the first of its kind since a schism in the 11th Century split what was then the only Christian Church into Western and Eastern branches.

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