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Pope to visit Cuba for first time

October 29, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EST (0445 GMT)

HAVANA (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II will make a landmark first visit to Cuba, a Vatican official confirmed Tuesday.

"We have agreed that soon the relevant arrangements will be made for this pastoral visit to take place," Vatican Foreign Minister Jean-Louis Tauran said after a five-day visit to the Communist island. He didn't say when the visit would occur.

Tauran is the first Vatican foreign minister to be invited to Cuba, signifying improved relations between the Communist government and the Roman Catholic Church.

"The so longed-for visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba would represent a culmination and a new departure point on the road towards normalized relations between the Church and the state in Cuba," Tauran said. Cuban President Fidel Castro expects to meet the Pope if he travels to Rome for a United Nations food summit next month.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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