Raul Castro Holds First Meeting with US Leaders

Holds 'constructive dialogue' with six congresspeople
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 7, 2009 7:15 AM CDT
In this photo released by Cuba's presidential press office, Raul Castro, right, meets with Rep. Barbara Lee, second right, and other members of an American delegation in Havana yesterday.   (AP Photo/Cuba Presidential Press Office, Geovany Fernandez)
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(Newser) – Raul Castro met with six visiting members of the Congressional Black Caucus for more than four hours yesterday in his first face-to-face discussions with US leaders since he became Cuba's president last year, the AP reports. Castro spoke with Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, and other members of the delegation behind closed doors. "I'm convinced Raul Castro wants a normal relationship with the United States," Lee said after the meeting adjourned around midnight. "He's serious.”

“We talked about all the issues necessary to normal relations between our two countries,” Lee added. Cuba called the meeting “a broad exchange of ideas on many topics, with emphasis on the future evolution of bilateral relations and economic ties after the arrival of a new US administration." In a column yesterday Fidel got into the act, too, writing that Cuba is not afraid to talk directly to the US, and praising Sen. Richard Lugar for proposing an envoy to reshape US-Cuba relations.