Cubans line the streets at start of Obama's 'historic' visit

Gemma Strong

Cheers of 'USA' and 'Obama' rang out on Sunday evening as President Obama began his historic three-day visit to Cuba. Despite the driving rain, crowds turned out in force to catch a glimpse of the American leader and his wife Michelle Obama as they enjoyed a walkabout around Old Havana, their view slightly marred by the sea of umbrellas protecting the premiere couple from a tropical storm.

Just a few hours earlier, the Obamas emerged from Air Force One with their daughters Sasha, 14, and Malia, 17. Smiling broadly, the family walked in light drizzle along a red carpet to be greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

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The Obama family step off Air Force One in Cuba

Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution, and speaking at the reopened US embassy in Havana shortly after his arrival, he described the trip as "historic".

"It's wonderful to be here," he told the embassy staff. "Back in 1928, President Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here, it only took my three hours. For the first time ever, Air Force One has landed in Cuba, and this is our very first stop."

He added that the trip was a chance for him to lay out his "vision for a future that is brighter than our past".

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Barack and Michelle later paid a visit to historic Old Havana

The Obamas then began their walkabout in historic Old Havana, where they huddled under umbrellas before visiting the national cathedral.

While in Cuba, the President will meet with leader Raul Castro, and also attend a baseball game between the country’s national team and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Michelle, meanwhile, has her own itinerary. The First Lady is holding a number of meeting, including with high-school age female Cubans as part of her Let Girls Learn initiative, during which she will ask the young women question submitted by US student about life in Cuba.

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The couple's walkabout, which was slightly marred by a tropical storm, included a visit to the national cathedral

On Thursday, the entire Obama family will travel to Argentina, where they will meet with the country's new president Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires.

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