Thursday, October 7, 2010

No talk of US-Cuba prisoner swap: US senator

No talk of US-Cuba prisoner swap: US senator
Wed Oct 6, 11:00 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A top US senator just back from a five-day visit to
Cuba to meet with officials there said he did not believe there was any
chance of a prisoner swap between the United States and its communist

Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd made the trip for
talks with officials in Havana on how to improve relations between the
former Cold War foes, his office said. The countries do not have full
diplomatic ties.

Dodd, who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the
Western Hemisphere, has been a frequent vocal critic of the US trade
embargo on Cuba.

In December, Cuba detained a US government contractor, Alan Gross, whom
Havana accused of distributing communications materials to civil groups.

The United States, meanwhile, since 2001 has jailed five Cuban spies for

Though US media have speculated on the possibility of a swap, Dodd said
it was not being discussed before he left for Cuba.

And he stressed that in his view, Gross' case was very different from
that of the Cubans, who were spying on US military installations. He
also said that he was not able to meet with Gross during the visit.

But in Havana, Cuban President Raul Castro urged his US counterpart,
Barack Obama, to free the five Cuban spies. Cuba maintains the spies
were protecting it from terrorism that could come from the United
States, an argument that is not likely to be an easy sell in Washington.

Castro, 79, also slammed Washington for "arbitrarily" continuing to
claim that Havana is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Obama "has failed to acknowledge the cooperation that he has received
from Cuba" in fighting terrorism, Castro said, while individuals who
have committed attacks on Cuban targets -- Luis Posada Carriles and
Orlando Bosch -- are living quietly and without being punished, in Miami.

Dodd earlier this year announced he would not seek reelection, was a
lead author of legislation to lift the effective ban on travel by US
citizens to Cuba. The measure is stalled in the US Senate. Dodd is a
Democrat who represents Connecticut.;_ylt=Aqh_pmKx8Hz9KFRadRduaoOsOrgF;_ylu=X3oDMTM1ZmhsZXA2BGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDEwMTAwNy91c2N1YmFkaXBsb21hY3lwb2xpdGljc2F0dGFja3Nlc3Bpb25hZ2UEcG9zAzEzBHNlYwN5bl9zdWJjYXRfbGlzdARz

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