Pope Francis considering visiting Cuba in September: Vatican

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis is considering a visit to Cuba in September as part of a trip that will also take him to the United States, the Vatican announced on Friday.

"The Holy Father has taken into consideration the idea of carrying out a leg to Cuba on the occasion of his upcoming visit to the United States" between September 22 and 27, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

"Contacts with Cuban authorities are still at a stage... it's too early to speak of this (trip)... as an operational project," he said.

The 78-year-old leader of the world's Roman Catholics confirmed late last year that he would visit the United States to take part in a Catholic Church congress in Philadelphia.

During the trip, he will also address the United Nations in New York, become the first pontiff to address the US Congress and will meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House.

The popularity of the Argentine-born pope is soaring among Americans, according to recent polls.

A survey by the Pew Research Centre released in March showed that 90 percent of Catholic Americans thought well of the pontiff, including 57 per cent who held a "very favourable" view of him.