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U.S. diplomatic troubleshooter to stay in Cuba until meeting jailed U.S. contractor

(Xinhua)

12:45, September 10, 2011

HAVANA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. diplomatic troubleshooter Bill Richardson said here Friday he would stay in Cuba until he is allowed to meet with a jailed U.S. contractor accused of espionage.

The former New Mexico governor arrived in the Caribbean island nation Wednesday and requested to meet with U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who had been accused of trying to undermine the relations between the two countries. But Richardson was denied access to visit the inmate.

"I had a very positive three-hour meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, we talked about many issues, but he told me that it was impossible to visit Alan Gross, so I plan to stay on the island until I can see him," Richardson said.

He wanted to see Gross to fulfil the promise he made to Judy Gross, Alan's wife. Originally, Richardson had planned to leave Cuba Saturday.

Gross was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009 at Havana Airport for allegedly providing Internet satellite communication equipment to anti-Castro groups in the island nation.

The 62-year-old Gross was jailed in March with a 15-year sentence for violating Cuba's "independence or territorial integrity."

Washington, however, denied the charges, saying Gross only wanted to provide more Internet access to Cuba as he was working for a U.S. Agency for International Development program.

Richardson served as Energy Secretary and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton's administration. He visited the Democratic People's Republic of Korea last December over the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

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