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5,000 Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica (2015)
01:58 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

President Barack Obama told Yahoo news he would 'very much' like to go to Cuba

Obama also faced questions regarding the closing of Guantanamo Bay detainee facility

CNN  — 

President Barack Obama said he would “very much” like to visit Cuba before the end of his presidency, but he made clear that the “conditions have to be right.”

“If I go on a visit, then part of the deal is that I get to talk with everybody,” Obama said during an interview with Yahoo News published Monday, marking a year since news broke that the United States and Cuba would begin normalizing relations.

“What I’ve said to the Cuban government is ‘if, in fact, I, with confidence, can say that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I’d love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that progress,’” the President said, hinting a decision on his travel would come in the next several months. “If we’re going backwards, then there’s not much reason for me to be there.”

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Inside the Cuban Embassy
01:23 - Source: CNN

After decades of severed ties between the United States and Cuba that began during the Cold War, Obama announced the formal re-establishing of diplomatic relations with the island nation in July, reopening embassies in each other’s capitals.

During the interview, Obama also answered questions on the closing of Guantanamo Bay, saying that he and his “top intelligence and military advisers” are still convinced that shuttering the U.S. detention camp located in Cuba is the right choice.

READ: Senate passes defense bill blocking Obama’s Guantanamo Bay plan

“Between and myself and the Bush administration, hundreds of people have been released … We assume that … a handful of them are going to be embittered and still engaging in anti-US activities and trying to link up potentially with their old groups,” Obama said. “The bottom line is that the strategic gains we make by closing Guantanamo will outweigh, you know, those low-level individuals who, you know, have been released so far.”