In Cuba Obama Lauds "Historic Opportunity"

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[Report From Havana]

The president's first stop in Havana was meeting with embassy staff. Because of the rainy weather, he did it not at the embassy but at the Melia Habana hotel. Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the charge d'affairs, introduced him - though the president twice referred to him as "ambassador".

"When President Obama was campaigning, he often used the phrase 'Yes we can' si se puede. Well, on US-Cuba relations, like so much he's tackled in his presidency, we can now say 'Yes we did.'"

"Back in 1928, President Coolidge came on a battleship, it took him three days to get here. It only took me three hours", president Obama said.

At one point he said "como andan" -- "how's it going?"

"Having a US embassy means we're more effectively able to advance our values, our interests and understand more effectively" the Cuban people's concerns, the president said. "This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity."

He called out three Cubans who worked at the embassy for many years, back when it was still an interest section.

"I know it's been a pretty busy seven months. ... But I want you to know, everyone we've accomplished so far ... It's all happening because of you. Every day you're bringing the US and Cuba closer together."

"I'm so glad you brought your families here because I always like taking pictures with kids .. Their future is what we all work for so hard and I'm so grateful to all of you for making it happen."

By Pool Reporter
Edward-Isaac Dovere
Senior White House reporter

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