Carter heading to Cuba

ATLANTA – Former president Jimmy Carter is traveling to Cuba – at the request of the communist country’s government – to discuss how the United States and Cuba can improve their relations.

Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will be in Havana from Monday until Wednesday, according to the Atlanta-based Carter Center.

“They will meet with President Raul Castro and other Cuban officials and citizens to learn about new economic policies and the upcoming Party Congress, and to discuss ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations,” the Carter Center said in a statement. “The trip is a follow-up to their May 2002 visit to Cuba. It is being undertaken as a private, nongovernmental mission under the auspices of the not-for-profit Carter Center.”

Carter, a former governor of Georgia, served as president from 1977 until 1981.

The former president is also planning to travel to North Korea in an unofficial capacity, according to a federal official. On Thursday, the State Department confirmed the trip, but did not offer any specifics, and a spokesman for the Atlanta-based Carter Center declined to comment to the Agence France-Presse newswire about the nature of the trip.

The former president visited North Korea in 1994 amid escalating tension over the country’s nuclear program and again in 2010 to help facilitate the release of an imprisoned American teacher.

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