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Rolling Stones announce historic free concert in Havana

The performance will come three days after US President Barack Obama is due to conclude a visit to Cuba.

The Rolling Stones (L-R) Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Ron Wood, are pictured upon landing in Montevideo on 15 February 2016. Picture: AFP/PABLO PORCIUNCULA

HAVANA - The Rolling Stones will perform a free outdoor concert in Havana on 25 March, he band announced on Tuesday, a milestone event in a country where the communist government once banned the group's music as an "ideological deviation."

The band added the Concert for Amity show, likely to be the biggest rock concert ever staged in Cuba, to a Latin American tour that had been due to end on 17 March in Mexico City.

The performance will come three days after US President Barack Obama is due to conclude a visit to Cuba, the first by an American president since 1928. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December 2014 they would seek to normalize relations after more than half a century of Cold War animosity.

The concert, which will be filmed, is set to take place on fields surrounding Havana's Ciudad Deportiva, a 26-hectare sports complex. It will mark the first open-air concert in Cuba by a British rock band, the group said.

"We have performed in many special places during our long career but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba too," the band said in a statement accompanied by an image of its four current members - Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.

After the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro, Raul's brother, to power the Caribbean nation censured the group formed in London in 1962, as well as the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Fidel Castro ultimately lamented the music censorship and attended the unveiling of a statue of late former Beatle John Lennon in a Havana park on the 20th anniversary of his death on 8 December 2000.

"I very much regret not having known you before," Castro said during the ceremony.

At the statue on Tuesday, tour guide Julio Garcia reacted with joy to the news of the Stones's visit, which was filtering out slowly on the island.

"Los Rolling in Cuba? Wow!" he said. "We have been waiting for them here for many years."

Armando Gonzalez, 57, drove up in a blue and white Chevrolet built in 1954, before either the revolution or the Rolling Stones had tasted success.

"Their music has no borders," he said.

"Now there is an opening and we will be able to enjoy them fully."

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