Obama Extends 'Hand of Friendship' to Cuba After Death of Fidel Castro

President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the Castro family and extended "a hand of friendship to the Cuban people," after the announcement by Cuban President Raul Castro that his brother, former leader Fidel Castro, died at age 90.

"At this time of Fidel Castro's passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," Obama said in a statement. "Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America."

Obama also reiterated his work to re-establish diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba.

"For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends - bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity," Obama said. "This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba."

In an historic visit in March, Obama and the first family spent two and a half days in Cuba on an state visit, which included a meeting with Raul Castro. It was the first visit to Cuba by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years.
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