By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes will travel to Miami next week to meet with leaders from the Cuban-American community to allay concerns about Obama's historic trip to Cuba later this month, a White House official told Reuters.
"Miami has long been at the heart of the Cuban-American community, and this trip will provide an opportunity to continue the important dialogue about the president's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba," the official said.
Rhodes, who helped negotiate the thaw in Washington's relations with the island nation, will meet with human rights advocates, religious leaders, and private sector representatives during his March 11 trip.
Obama goes to Havana in mid-March in what will be the first visit by a U.S. president to the Caribbean nation since 1928.
Republicans and some leaders in the Cuban-American community oppose the trip, believing it will give legitimacy to the island's Communist government.
Rhodes will seek to allay those concerns and discuss what the president hopes to achieve by going to Havana, the official said.
Obama plans to meet with dissidents as well as President Raul Castro during his stay in Cuba.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Sandra Maler)