Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Cuba to attend first-ever Americas summit – Panama

    Cuba to attend first-ever Americas summit – Panama
    Reuters

    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Cuba will attend the Washington-backed Summit of
    the Americas for the first time, host nation Panama said on Friday,
    edging two adversaries closer to a possible joint appearance by
    presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.
    The seventh Summit of the Americas, set for April 10-11 in Panama,
    presents the United States and Cuba an opportunity for detente.
    Cuba has been shut out of the previous six summits, sponsored by the
    Organization of American States, as it was expelled from the OAS in 1962
    at the initiative of the United States. The 34-nation bloc invited Cuba
    to rejoin in 2009 but Cuba has declined.
    “Cuba has confirmed that the highest level of government will attend the
    summit,” said Luis Martin, a spokesman for Panama’s Foreign Ministry,
    though he could not say if Cuban leader Raul Castro would headline the
    delegation.
    At the previous summit in Colombia in 2012, Latin American countries
    threatened to boycott the next summit if Cuba were excluded, and in
    recent months Cuba’s participation has become widely expected.
    Panama’s Foreign Ministry on Friday also listed Chile, Colombia, Costa
    Rica and El Salvador among the attendees.
    The United States is expected to attend but has not yet announced if
    Obama would lead the U.S. delegation, a development that would stir
    protest from the influential anti-Castro lobby.
    Washington has said Cuba should be excluded but Secretary of State John
    Kerry indicated a softening of that position in a speech in Miami on
    Wednesday when he said, “We must get beyond the perennial debate about
    attendance – who comes – and focus on the substantive issues at the summit.”
    Historically tense U.S.-Cuban ties are further strained by the
    imprisonment of U.S. foreign aid worker Alan Gross, who is serving a
    15-year sentence for taking banned technology into Cuba to set up
    clandestine Internet service for Cuban Jews.
    Cuba has sought to exchange Gross for three of its intelligence agents
    serving long prison terms in the United States for spying on
    Florida-based anti-Castro exiles, but the United States has refused.
    (Reporting by Elida Moreno; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta in
    Havana; Editing by Richard Chang)

    Source: Cuba to attend first-ever Americas summit – Panama – Yahoo South
    Africa News –
    https://za.news.yahoo.com/cuba-attend-first-ever-americas-summit-panama-200322905.html