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Raul Castro meets U.S. lawmakers

Tue., April 7, 2009

HAVANA – President Raul Castro met Monday with six visiting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, his first face-to-face discussions with U.S. leaders since he became Cuba’s president last year.

State television showed images of Castro, who holds the rank of four-star army general, wearing a business suit instead of his trademark olive-green fatigues and sitting down with Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, and other members of the American delegation behind closed doors.

Seven Democratic representatives traveled to Havana but an official communique read on the air said only six attended the meeting with Castro. The statement provided no details of what was discussed or how long the meeting lasted. It added that the group also spoke in recent days with the head of parliament and the country’s foreign minister.

The lawmakers are in Havana to talk about improving U.S.-Cuba relations amid speculation that Washington is ready to loosen some facets of its 47-year-old trade embargo against the island.

The meeting came as Fidel Castro said Cuba is not afraid to talk directly to the United States, and that the communist government does not thrive on confrontation as its detractors have long claimed.



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