NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pope Francis has decided to visit Cuba before coming to the U.S. in September, Vatican officials announced Wednesday.

“I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States,” Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a statement.

In January, Pope Francis said he will be in New York from Sept. 24-26 and in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families conference, which is being held Sept. 25-27.

The pope is also expected to visit the White House and address Congress during his trip to the U.S.

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo became the first American governor to visit the island nation since the recent thaw in relations with the ruling communist regime.

PHOTOS: Gov. Andrew Cuomo In Cuba

In December, President Barack Obama announced he is reopening the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, lifting travel restrictions for family and governmental visits and allowing Americans to bring small amounts of Cuban goods into the U.S.

The agreement between Obama and Raul Castro came after more than half a century of estrangement between the two nations.


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