President Obama and President Castro deliver speeches from Havana

Castro Asked About Human Rights And Political Prisoners In Cuba
Castro Asked About Human Rights And Political Prisoners In Cuba

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro are scheduled to deliver statements amid Obama's historic visit to the island nation on Monday.

Obama was welcomed Monday by President Castro, brother of former president Fidel Castro, in Havana at the Palace of the Revolution.

During his speech, Obama said he and Castro had a very "frank and candid" conversation about human rights and the economic embargo, among other issues.

The president noted two things that will accelerate bringing the embargo to end, while answering questions from members of the press. First, he said it begins with recognizing the changes that have already been made and building on that. Obama said the second thing is the issue of human rights. He compared his feelings on Cuba's human rights issues with deep disagreements he has with other nations like China and Vietnam, saying he recognizes we can't force change on any one nation.

"We continue to have serious differences, including on democracy and human rights," said Obama.

Castro appeared irritated when he was asked a question about current political prisoners and demanded to see a list of such detainees, reports Reuters.

"Give me a list of those political prisoners right now and if the list exists they will be released before the night is through," Castro said.

Both leaders called for an end to the 54-year-old economic embargo.

See photos of the Obama family touring Cuba

The president and first family arrived in Cuba Sunday afternoon, marking the beginning of a historic visit. Obama became the first president to visit the Communist island nation since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

This trip would have been unthinkable before Obama and Raul Castro's rapprochement in December 2014.

Following Obama's speech to the Cuban people, he is expected to meet with a group of dissidents and members of the opposing political party.

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Obama has pushed for an end to the embargo, but has been blocked by Republican leaders in Congress.

"There's no doubt that we still have some work to do, and part of that is bringing an end to the embargo that is currently in place," Obama told ABC News. He also told the news organization he will announce Google has a deal with Cuba to help improve Internet access on the island.

Obama attended a wreath laying ceremony honoring poet José Martí and toured the memorial earlier Monday morning.

The president is also scheduled to attend a baseball game this week between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team.

Originally published