Transcript for This day in history: Dec. 17, 2014
For the first time since John F. Kennedy was president at the height of the Cold War. The United States tonight restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba. That tiny island just ninety miles from the Florida coast we are just back from the White House tonight we're late today I sat down with President Obama. The world watching a small fee and Cuban president Raul Castro Fidel Castro's brother. Both standing before the cameras revealing that the US will open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than half a century. Tonight we have exclusive pictures shot by senator Jeff flake the release of that American contractor held in prison for five years hugging his wife. Our team on the ground from Cuba in just a moment but first President Obama on the secret talks the Pope. And a phone call with president role Castro had made it official. Mr. President we all saw that first. Handshake a year ago with president Castro and worldwide and now we're aware of the phone call the last 24 hours and I'm curious if there's something in that phone call. You can share with the American people that assured you that Cuba is actually changing. Well I'm not sure. No role Castro revision it is something's going to be changed significantly. But there's going to be generational change pure this last conversation. Was. Substantive I was very insistent with him that we would continue to. Promote democracy and human rights and speak out forcefully on behalf of the freedom of the people of Cuba president Castro's brother Fidel Castro is he aware of what's happened did he approve. I'm not short I don't know what. Fidel Castro's health services that's not an issue that was raised comes. We know he reached out personally to both you and the president Castro. We now learn of the secret meeting at the Vatican how crucial role. Did the Pope played in all this white boy that he played very important role when I had the meeting with pulled Francis for the first back in the spring. This was one of the items on the agenda and so. The assistance. Not only. Of him and his office and providing a moral reported. To issue but also. His. Practical for soldiers and Vatican I think was very very. He is the real deal. Remarkable man and and an inspiration to all Alan gross America watched him come home today they. He looked a lot healthier then images we have seen before we talk to me and I did I had a chance to talk to mom. His flight home. And the first thing says Mr. President. For you I don't mind interrupting my corned beef Sam. So. I told me have mustered I was up for work but. We we have emerged. Nice conversation he obviously. Is joyful about being reunited with the spam way. It was tough wall it was. All ears locked up the state department's list the state sponsors of terror to Cuba is on that list. He chairs a space with the wrong and with Syria on the list even North Korea. Has been taken off the list how soon do you see Cuba. Coming off that list we're going to go through. Very deliberate process and review of the key issue here is to use that list. Based on facts. Not based on ideology. And you know we will examine our other instances of Cuba sponsoring. Terrorism actively. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush who says he's now exploring. Looking at whether or not to run for president Sid just this month that Cuba is a dictatorship pure and simple. Do you agree would that is president Castro dictator. Well it's one party state but keep in mind so is China. So's Vietnam but what we found as were in a position to. Have more influence on the course of events in those countries when we have an active investor there when we have. People to people exchanges. But there are those who argue that the embargo should be strengthened not weakened. Pointing to the political prisoners that still do exist and the fact that they can't have demonstrations against their own government their if you have access to the Internet. So what do you say to those in this country tonight who believe. We ought to be moving in the other direction. Boy he frankly hold these beliefs. Was great sincerity. He or it if you're Cuban exile who saw. And your families. Driven from. Country that you love you're gonna feel strongly about emotionally about. There are people who are friends of mine who. Neal who feel that way. But what I've said to them is we have the same objective. We want to see greater freedom greater prosperity and greater opportunity for ordinary Cubans. Will you visit Cuban your final two years as president you know I don't have any current plans. To visit Cuba. Carolina. Well what's what's see how things along.
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