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Trudeau begins trade trip today with stop in Cuba

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Trudeau arrives in Cuba today, the first official visit by a Canadian prime minister in almost two decades.

It is the first step in the Liberal government’s week-long bid to boost Canadian trade, investment and engagement in the region.

The visit is a necessary and symbolic stop en route to Argentina and Peru because Cuba is a political and diplomatic gateway to the Americas.

Allan Culham, Canada’s former ambassador to the Organization of American States says a visit to Cuba is a rite of passage in the Americas.

Justin Trudeau has a special relationship with Cuba.

Former leader Fidel Castro was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of his father, Pierre Trudeau in 2000 because of a friendship that began when the elder Trudeau visited Cuba in 1976.

There is no scheduled meeting with Fidel Castro for Justin Trudeau, but Cuban officials say it could happen.

On Thursday, Trudeau moves on to Argentina where he’s scheduled to meet with President, Mauricio Macri. Trudeau will spend the weekend in the Peruvian capital of Lima at the APEC leaders’ summit, where he’s expected to speak.