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realclearworld

U.S. lawmakers come back from Cuba empty handed

I'm not sure anyone is surprised by this, but Sen. Leahy and his fellow vacationers from Capitol Hill went to Cuba looking for mojitos, cigars, and a side trip to free American hostage Alan Gross and all they came back with was a hangover and perhaps a mild case of cholera.

Via Reuters:

U.S. congressional delegation leaves Cuba empty-handed

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy (2nd L) of Vermont and his wife Marcelle Pomerleau, (L), walk with staff members on a street in Havana February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

(Reuters) - A U.S. congressional delegation left Cuba on Wednesday after meetings with President Raul Castro and other top officials, but no sign the countries had resolved their latest dispute: the fate of imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross.

Delegation members and their staff said they were encouraged by the relaxed tone of their meetings and indications the Cuban side wanted the dialogue to continue.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont canceled a news conference scheduled for Wednesday morning before taking a stroll with his wife in downtown Havana then leaving for Haiti.

"We met with President Raul Castro and discussed the continuing obstacles and the need to improve relations between our two countries," he said in a brief statement.

Leahy said upon arrival in Cuba on Monday that he had spoken with President Barack Obama about the trip and would report back to his administration.

He said the delegation hoped the imprisoned U.S. contractor would fly home with them, but added it was a long shot.

Leahy and U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who represents Gross' district in Maryland, visited the American contractor on Tuesday at a Havana military hospital where he is being held, a U.S. diplomat told Reuters.

They had no comment on the visit.

Other members of the delegation included Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

Leahy led a similar delegation to Cuba a year ago.

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