WASHINGTON – The federal government has given its blessing for former President Jimmy Carter to visit Cuba next month.
The U.S. Treasury Department told Carter on Friday that he could visit the country, Deanna Congileo of the Carter Center in Atlanta said. No date is set but he will likely travel to the Caribbean island with a group in May.
Carter has spoken out for increasing trade and Americans' visits to Cuba, saying they would spread understanding of the advantages of freedom.
He was invited by Cuban leader Fidel Castro in January to come see the country, and will be the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since Castro seized power in 1959.
The Bush administration and the Cuban exile community will likely pressure Carter to discuss democracy and human rights with his host. The Cuban American National Foundation, an exiled group, also suggests Carter tell Castro he should leave power, a task Carter has had success with in the past.
In 1994, Carter convinced Haitian military ruler Gen. Raoul Cedras to step down.
The move coincides with efforts by some in Congress to ease trade sanctions and restrictions on travel to the communist country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.