President Barack Obama will visit Cuba in the coming weeks, a senior administration official told NBC News on Wednesday night.
The trip marks historic end to more than a half-century of official estrangement between the historic Cold War rivals.
The official said details would be announced Thursday as part of a larger tour by Obama of Latin America.
Plans for Obama’s visit could also coincide with a trip by a major league baseball team, given the island’s passion for the sport.
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December 2014 that they would normalize relations after decades of broken ties. A year later, in December 2015, Obama said he would consider visiting Cuba if there was evidence of significant improvements in civil liberties.
Obama and Castro met last April in Panama in the first official meeting of the leaders of the two nations since the United States cut diplomatic relations in 1961 after Castro’s brother, Fidel Castro, seized power.
Related: Obama and Raul Castro Hold Historic Meeting Between U.S., Cuba
The last sitting president to visit the island was Calvin Coolidge, who addressed the Pan-American Conference of Western Hemisphere leaders in Havana in 1928.
Cuban officials are concerned that the executive actions taken by President Obama to normalize relations could be reversed next year, given the opposition of leading Republican presidential candidates to restoring ties with Cuba.
At a Republican presidential campaign forum in Greenville, South Carolina, on Wednesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida criticized reports of Obama’s plans, calling Castro’s government “an anti-American communist dictatorship.”
Asked whether he would ever visit Cuba as president, Rubio — whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956 — said, “Not if it’s not a free Cuba.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whose father was born in Cuba and was granted political asylum in the United States, said he was “saddened” by the news and vowed never to visit the country “as long as Castro is in power.”
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