A delegation of American lawmakers led by Sen. Patrick Leahy arrived in Cuba on Monday to gauge the island’s economic changes and stress the importance of freeing a jailed American whose detention has chilled relations between the two countries.
The trip, which included five senators, was the first to the Communist-run island by high-level U.S. politicians since President Barack Obama’s re-election in November.
It comes a year after another group of legislators led by Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, came to Cuba and met with President Raul Castro. Last year’s delegation also visited Alan Gross, an American jailed since 2009 for illegally distributing communications equipment on the island while on a U.S.-funded democracy-building program.
In their meetings, the lawmakers will stress that freeing Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence, is a crucial prerequisite for improved ties, a State Department official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authorization to comment publicly.
Read more at NPR NEWS.