President Michael D Higgins will hold a private meeting with the Cuban president as he becomes the first Irish head of State to visit Cuba.

The President will later meet President Raúl Castro Ruz on the final leg of his 12-day Latin America visit.

The meeting will be preceded by an official welcoming ceremony and wreath laying at the José Martí monument.

The aim of the visit is to provide an opportunity to build on what is regarded as a very positive relationship between Ireland and Cuba.

President Higgins will be the first European head of state to visit since the signature of the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement in December 2016.

The Cuban government are understood to see this visit in the context of the wider EU-Cuba relationship as well as a bilateral relationship with Ireland.

Ireland's trade with Cuba has seen a large increase in percentage terms in recent years.

But is still relatively small totalling about €6 million a year.

Minister of State David Stanton TD has travelled as planned to accompany the President as he has a pairing arrangement for Dáil votes, including tonight’s motion of confidence in the Government.

President Higgins has already visited Peru and Colombia and returns to Ireland on Sunday.

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