US delegation to Cuba meets Fidel Castro

April 8th, 2009 - 9:00 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, April 8 (DPA) Former Cuban president Fidel Castro met Tuesday with three visiting members of the US Congress in what they called a sign that Cuba wants to open a new dialogue with Washington.
After a two-hour meeting with Castro, Congresswoman Barbara Lee told reporters in Washington that she was convinced the Cubans want to talk with Washington about normalising relations.

Lee said she would tell US President Barack Obama that the Cuban leadership, including President Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, appeared to communicate “their willingness and their desire to sit down and have a dialogue and discussions leading hopefully to a normal diplomatic relations.”

“It is time to look at a new direction in our foreign policy,” said Lee, who led the seven-member delegation primarily of members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“The 50-year embargo just hasn’t worked, and American citizens should have the right to travel to Cuba. It’s in our economic interest to do business with Cuba.”

Obama during his election campaign advocated a “new strategy” for Cuba and could offer more changes at the summit of the Americas April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Last week, the US Senate introduced a bill that would lift travel restrictions for US citizens to Cuba. The Congress temporarily eased travel restrictions for family members last month when it cut off money to enforce travel restrictions on families that had been further tightened under former president George W Bush.

The Congress members were the first Americans to meet with Castro since he fell ill and handed power to Raul, who met with the delegation Monday.

The delegation said that Fidel appeared to be in good health. Congresswoman Laura Richardson described him as in good spirits and said he had asked how Cubans can help Obama.

Fidel Castro wrote in a commentary published Monday that Cuba was not afraid of dialogue with the United States.

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