(CNN) – Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Fidel Castro Tuesday in Cuba, marking the first time the former Cuban president has met with US leaders since in 2006.
A delegation of congressional Democrats, led by Barbara Lee of California, arrived in Cuba last week to discuss bilateral relations with and review new policies regarding trade and commerce between the US and island nation. The group of seven includes members of the CBS, Reps. Mel Watt of North Carolina, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Bobby Rush of Illinois, and Laura Richardson on California, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus member Mike Honda of California.
President Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, held talks with the six Congressional Black Caucus members of the delegation Monday in Havana.
The trip follows the introduction of a bill last week by a bipartisan group of senators to lift the travel ban on Cuba, maintaining the end of the travel restriction would advance democracy, promote human rights, and benefit US agriculture and small business groups. If passed, The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act would allow US citizens to travel freely to nation for the first time since 1962.
Cuban-born Republican Sen. Mel Martinez opposes the legislation, arguing that opening the communist-led island for tourist travel would perpetuate the repression of the "Castro regime."
But new changes to US Cuba travel policy could be coming soon. White House Adviser Jeffrey Davidson said Monday he would not be surprised if the Obama administration announced the easing of restrictions to the island before the Summit of the Americas on April 17. The move would fulfill a campaign promise by the then-presidential candidate to ease Cuban-American travel restrictions.
President Castro has said he is open to talks with the Obama administration.
Listen: CNN Radio on the new move in Congress to change U.S. relations with Cuba
(CNN) – Who is candidate No. 5 in the Gov. Blagojevich scandal? While specific names are not referenced in the affidavit disclosing six prospective candidates in the running for Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, details emerged regarding one candidate in particular – No. 5. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Drew Griffin takes a close look at this candidate as he maintains he had no involvement in the wrongdoing.
Also: She attends numerous events per year, logs hundreds of hours of volunteer work, entertains visitors from all over the world, and takes up causes of her own. So should the nation’s first lady be on the White House payroll? CNN’s Alina Cho reports.
Plus: One of President-elect Barack Obama’s biggest campaign promises was to fix America’s broken infrastructure and create American jobs in the process. Is this the answer to heal the nation’s ongoing economic trouble? CNN’s Alan Chertoff has the story.
Finally: During his campaign, President-elect Obama said his policy toward Cuba will be guided by one-word: freedom. So, what will this mean in practice? Havana, Cuba Bureau Chief Morgan Neil has Thursday’s “Memo to the President.”
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HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) – Former Cuban President Fidel Castro says he is open to the idea of meeting with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
"With Obama, one can talk whenever he wants, because we're not preachers of violence or war," the communist leader wrote in an essay published Thursday on a state-run Web site. "He must be reminded that the carrot-and-stick theory cannot be applied in our country."
Friday's missive marked the second time in recent weeks that a Cuban leader has said he is open to meeting with Obama.
In the latest issue of The Nation, actor Sean Penn writes of his recent conversation in Havana with Raúl Castro, who took over as president this year from his ailing brother.
According to Penn, Raúl Castro told him, "Perhaps we could meet at Guantanamo. We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift. ... We could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay."
(CNN) – The Obama transition team declined comment Wednesday on a report that Cuban President Raul Castro might be interested in meeting with the president-elect at Guantanamo Bay, and had told an interviewer Cubans could "send [Obama] home with the American flag that waves over" the U.S. base there.
Asked whether he would be willing to visit Washington to speak with Obama, Castro instead suggested to actor Sean Penn Guantanamo Bay could serve as "neutral ground" for discussions. Castro also told Penn, in an interview published in The Nation, that the two leaders "must meet and begin to solve our problems."
Raul Castro’s brother, longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, criticized Obama this spring for his position in favor of altering – but retaining – Washington’s nearly five-decade trade embargo on the island nation.
Obama came under fire from campaign rivals for his statement at a CNN/YouTube Democratic primary debate that he would be willing to meet without preconditions with Castro and other leaders hostile toward the United States.
–CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report