- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2014

On the heels of a historic deal to mend relations with Cuba, White House officials on Thursday would not rule out the possibility of Cuban President Raul Castro visiting Washington.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that President Obama routinely visits nations such as China and Burma which, like Cuba, have “checkered” records on human rights. The president also has welcomed the leaders of such countries to the White House, Mr. Earnest added.

For those reasons, a visit by Mr. Castro, the brother of iconic Cuban strongman Fidel Castro, is a real possibility.

“The president has had the leaders of both Burma and China to the U.S. and for that reason I wouldn’t rule out a visit from President Castro,” Mr. Earnest said.

The White House also has left the door open for Mr. Obama to travel to Cuba at some point over the next two years.

The U.S. and Cuba announced plans Thursday to restart a diplomatic relationship that had been dormant for more than a half-century following Cuba’s release of American aid worker Alan Gross and a spy swap between the two nations.

The administration now intends to open an embassy in Havana, review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror and ease travel and trade restrictions with the communist island.

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