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Posted on Tuesday, 12.11.12


US official: detention limiting US-Cuba relations

Roberta Jacobson, the Obama administration's point person for the

Western Hemisphere, rejected any suggestion that Gross was spying in Cuba.

By Aaron L. Morrison

Special to The Miami Herald

NEW YORK — There's no chance for broadening American-Cuban relations

until Cuba releases American subcontractor Alan Gross from ,

Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western

Hemisphere Affairs. said Tuesday.

During a presentation at the Council of the Americas in New York,

Jacobson reiterated the State Department's belief that the Cuban

government has no basis for refusing to release Gross, but remains

optimistic that the Cuban people's desire for a more open society might

influence a decision on his release.

"While we really wished that we could have moved forward with a broader

agenda with the Cuban government, it is the Cuban government that has

made that extremely difficult," Jacobson said. "There is a very easy way

to resolve that part of the agenda and that is to release Alan Gross…

just to be home with his mother, who has cancer, and his daughter, who

went through breast cancer last year."

Jacobson's remarks come just one week after the third anniversary of

Gross' arrest and imprisonment in Cuba. Gross, a 63-year-old native of

Maryland, was in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, after delivering

satellite telephones to Cuban Jews so they could access the Web outside

of the government's telecommunications system. He was sentenced to 15

years in prison for acts against the "independence or territorial

integrity" of Cuba.

"We've been very clear about who Alan Gross is and what he did,"

Jacobson said, rejecting a suggestion by a member of the audience that

U.S. officials have misled about financing Gross' visits with

pro-democracy program funds. "We feel he needs to be treated as an

international development worker. He isn't and wasn't a spy and he

should be returned to his family."

Jacobson also highlighted some of the Obama administration's key

priorities in the Western Hemisphere; including energy development,

expanding educational exchange opportunities for students, and

encouraging of and the press.

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