- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

HAVANA Former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba yesterday and became the first U.S. president in or out of office to visit this communist country since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.
Dressed in a gray suit, Mr. Castro, 75, greeted Mr. Carter, 77, at the airport with a handshake and symbolically threw open the doors of the island to the former American head of state, saying he could go anywhere and speak with anyone, "even if they do not share our endeavors," an obvious reference to human rights groups.
Mr. Carter said he and his wife, Rosalynn, had traveled here as friends of the Cuban people and hoped to meet many during their five-day stay. Mr. Carter reminded Cubans that he would be addressing them on live television Tuesday evening.
After the Carters' private jet arrived at 10:45 a.m., Mr. Castro escorted them down a red carpet and to a wooden podium with the Cuban and American flags flying side by side. They stood at attention for the playing of the Cuban and American national anthems. The "Star-Spangled Banner" is rarely heard in Cuba, though it also was played when the Baltimore Orioles competed against a Cuban all-star baseball team here in 1999.
"It is no secret that for almost a century there have not been optimal relations between the two states," Mr. Castro told Mr. Carter in his brief remarks. "However, I wish to state that in the four years of your tenure as president, you had the courage to make efforts to change the course of those relations. That is why those of us who were witnesses to that attitude see you with respect.
"Our country receives you and your delegation with sincere hospitality," Mr. Castro added.

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