Archive for Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fidel Castro meets with U.S. lawmakers

April 8, 2009

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— Signaling its willingness to discuss improved relations with the U.S., Cuba on Tuesday granted three visiting members of the Congressional Black Caucus the first meeting with Fidel Castro by American officials since he fell ill in 2006.

Caucus leader Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said she found Castro “very healthy, very energetic, very clear thinking” during his nearly two-hour session with the lawmakers. She said caucus members also visited his home and met his wife.

The surprise encounter came a day after the full delegation of six representatives spent more than four hours talking privately with Cuban President Raul Castro, his first encounter with U.S. officials since formally replacing his brother as head of state nearly 14 months ago.

And it comes as Washington discusses whether to warm up long-chilly relations with Cuba. President Barack Obama has ordered an assessment of U.S. policy toward the communist nation and some members of Congress are pushing to lift a ban on Americans visiting the island.

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