March 23, 2019

Obama Speaks With Castro by Phone

Obama Speaks With Castro by PhonePresident Barack Obama spoke with Cuban President Raul Castro by phone this week, the White House said.

In this Dec. 10, 2013 file image from TV, U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, in the rain for a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela. (AP Photo/SABC Pool, File)

A White House official said Obama spoke with Castro on Wednesday before departing on a trip to Jamaica and Panama for a meeting with Central American leaders.

The White House had said several times ahead of the trip that there would likely be “interaction” between the U.S. and Cuban leaders.

The two countries are in the midst of negotiating normalizing relations. Obama said Thursday the State Department has completed its review on whether to take Cuba off its state sponsor of terrorism list.

Reuters reported Thursday that the State Department has recommended Cuba be removed from the terror list, citing an anonymous Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer.

Obama shook hands with Castro during the 2013 memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela, about a year before the White House announced that the U.S. was seeking to restore diplomatic ties after decades of enmity.