- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2015

President Obama spoke by phone Friday with President Raul Castro of Cuba to discuss the “normalization” of relations between the two countries ahead of Pope Francis’s visits to Cuba and the U.S.

Mr. Obama, who eased some trade and travel restrictions with Cuba Friday, “underscored the importance of the United States and Cuba re-establishing diplomatic ties and the reopening of embassies in our respective countries,” the White House said.

The two leaders commended the role that Pope Francis played in advancing relations between the countries. The pope will visit Cuba before arriving in the U.S. on Tuesday.

The White House said Havana and Washington will address their differences “candidly” as relations go forward.

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