Rick Nolan says he'll join President Obama in Cuba


U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan has announced that he'll be heading to Cuba with President Barack Obama on Sunday.

Two other Minnesota lawmakers, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tom Emmer, will also be going. According to Nolan's office, there will be about 20 members of congress altogether.

Nolan says he plans to discuss trade opportunities for Minnesota agriculture, business and medical device companies.

"This historic trip is a monumental step forward for both nations and I'm honored and gratified to be a part of it," the representative said in a statement.

According to the news release, Nolan traveled to Cuba in 1977 and negotiated with President Fidel Castro to free five U.S. prisoners. They had been held for 17 years.

Afterwards, an exchange program between the University of Minnesota and Havana Schools of Agriculture was set up.

Nolan served three terms in Congress from 1975-1981. He returned in 2013 and has more than 32 years in domestic and international business and community work.

Meanwhile, Sen. Klobuchar has been a leader in the push to end the U.S. trade embargo, which would open business channels with Cuba for the first time in decades.

She visited Cuba about a year ago, and was treated like a mini celebrity after her legislation to end the embargo was introduced.

Rep. Emmer has also put out his own bill to end the embargo.

In Dec. 2014, the U.S. and Cuba announced they'd restore diplomatic relations after more than 50 years. Since then, Minnesota has been involved in developments.

Last spring, the Minnesota Orchestra traveled to the island for a concert series.

Sen. Al Franken and other state lawmakers have visited recently to discuss trade and business.

And earlier this month, Sun Country said it was applying to start nonstop flights from Minneapolis to Havana. Last year, charter flights started.

Obama will be the first president to visit the island since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Click here for more information on what he'll do on this historic trip.

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