Pope Francis has met with Cuban President Raul Castro today, ahead of his planned visit to the island nation later this year.
The pope granted Castro a rare Sunday audience at the Vatican as the Cuban President passed through Rome on his way back from Moscow.
Although the issues discussed by the Pope and Castro during their meeting were not disclosed the pontiff could be heard telling his visitor there was a "need to work together to fight poverty around the world" during a subsequent photo call.
Cuba recognised what it called a "fair decision" by US President Barack Obama to inform Congress he intends to remove Cuba from a US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
"The Cuban government recognised the fair decision made by the president of the United States to eliminate Cuba from a list that it never should have been included on, especially considering our country has been the victim of hundreds of acts of terrorism that have cost 3,478 lives and maimed 2,099 citizens," said the statement by Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry's chief of US affairs.
President Barack Obama has said his historic meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro could be a "turning point".Read the full story ›
US President Barack Obama has already spoken with Cuban President Raul Castro ahead of their symbolic meeting in Panama.
A Cuban official confirmed the two leaders shared a phone call on Wednesday as the countries work to mend once bitter Cold War relations.
Mr Obama and Mr Castro, who have only previously met briefly and informally, will share the same stage with other leaders at a regional summit in Panama later today.
It is the first time a US president has held a formal meeting with a Cuban leader since Mr Castro's older brother Fidel Castro toppled US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in a 1959 revolution.
Cuba should be removed from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism, a White House aide has revealed.
The US State Department made the recommendations to President Barack Obama.
Speaking during a trip to Jamaica, Obama said he was awaiting advice from his personal aides and would not make a decision immediately.
Removing Cuba from the list is seen as clearing a major obstacle in restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries after more than 50 years of hostility.
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro appears approve his nation's talks with the US in a letter published on the website of Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma.
The 88-year-old is quoted as saying: "I don't trust the policy of the United States nor have I had an exchange with them, but this does not mean ... a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or the dangers of war."
Cuba's current president Raul Castro has been holding high-level talks with the US government since the two countries announced a rapprochement on 17th December.
Fidel Castro was forced into retirement in 2008 by poor health and was succeeded by his brother Raul, who is now 83.
Ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro has broken his silence over Cuba and the United States' attempts to repair diplomatic relations.Read the full story ›
It has been a week of historic diplomacy in the Cuban capital.
Tonight, the extraordinary changes taking place between the USA and Cuba are illustrated in the words of a Cuban man who is hailed as a hero in his country after being jailed in the US for spying.
He has told ITV News that he would welcome a visit to Havana by President Barack Obama.
ITV News' Washington Correspondent Robert Moore has this report: