Cuba's Raul Castro will head to New York this month for the UN General Assembly

Thomson Reuters
Raul Castro
Cuba's President Raul Castro addressingthe National Assembly in Havana in December 2014.
Enrique De La Osa

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro is set to address the U.N. General Assembly this month, the United Nations announced on Tuesday, the first time the Cuban leader will visit the United States as the island nation's head of state.

The latest public schedule for the General Assembly's annual gathering of world leaders — the so-called General Debate — lists Castro as speaking on the afternoon of Sept. 28. US President Barack Obama and the leaders of Russia and China and Iran's president are also due to speak on the same day.

Neither the White House nor the Cuban government had an immediate response to queries about whether Castro and Obama might meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting, which begins on Sept. 25 with a speech by Pope Francis ahead of a three-day summit on global development. It ends on Oct. 3.

The White House has not yet released details of Obama's schedule while in New York. In addition to his Sept. 28 speech to the General Assembly, the United Nations says he is due to address the development summit on Sept. 27.

It would be the first visit to the United States as president for Castro, 84, who took over for his ailing brother Fidel provisionally in 2006 and definitively in 2008.

Castro has made only one known visit to the United States, briefly visiting Houston in 1959 shortly after the Castro brothers led the revolution that toppled US-backed strongman Fulgencio Batista.

Castro and Obama stunned the world last Dec. 17 by announcing détente following more than half a century of Cold War animosity between the two countries separated by 90 miles (145 km) of sea. That led to the restoration of diplomatic relations on July 20 after a 54-year break.

Fidel Castro holds the record for the longest speech at the United Nations at four and a half hours. "We shall endeavor to be brief," he told the United Nations General Assembly in 1960, before launching into his marathon address.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau in New York and Daniel Trotta in Havana; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish)