Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Jimmy Carter meets Cuba dissidents

    30 March 2011 Last updated at 17:15 GMT

    Jimmy Carter meets Cuba dissidents

    Former US president Jimmy Carter has had talks with prominent Cuban
    dissidents on the third day of his visit to the communist-run island.

    Among them were several activists recently released from and the
    Yoani Sanchez.

    Mr Carter also met the jailed US contractor Alan , but said the
    Cuban authorities had made it clear they did not intend to release him.

    He had talks with Cuban leader Raul on Tuesday.

    He is due to give a news conference shortly.

    The Cuban independent activist Elizardo Sanchez said Mr
    Carter "wanted to express his solidarity and his recognition of the
    movement for civil rights and the emerging civil society".

    "Hopefully his visit will be useful, even if it is just one step towards
    the normalisation of relations between the governments in Havana and
    Washington," he added.
    Unexpected visit

    Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez – whose website Generation Y has won
    international acclaim – said she could not comment on what Mr Carter had
    to say.

    "My words were dedicated to the need for of and free
    internet access for Cubans," she said.

    Mr Carter, 86 – who is on his second trip to Cuba – is the only serving
    or former US president to visit Cuba since the revolution in 1959.

    His three-day visit at the invitation of the Cuban government was only
    announced on Friday.

    There had been speculation that he would be seeking the release of the
    US contractor , who was sentenced to 15 years in prison
    earlier this month for providing satellite communications equipment to
    Jewish groups in Havana.

    But on Tuesday Mr Carter said he had not come to take Mr Gross back to
    the US, but to meet Cuban leaders and citizens and try to improve
    relations between Washington and Havana.

    His visit comes a week after the Cuban authorities released the last of
    the "Group of 75" dissidents in a crackdown on opposition
    activists in 2003.

    Their release had been a key condition set by the US and for any
    improvement in relations.

    But Washington has also said there can be no easing of tensions until Mr
    Gross is also freed.

    Tag: Dissident