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Richardson's Cuba efforts rebuffed

Sept. 12, 2011 at 11:06 AM

HAVANA, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says he will stay in Cuba until he is allowed to visit jailed U.S. government contractor Alan Gross.

While Richardson's visit had spurred hope of obtaining the release of Gross and improving U.S.-Cuban relations, the former U.N. ambassador told The Washington Post his diplomatic efforts were rebuffed.

"My sense is, there are some elements in their government that don't want to improve relations with the U.S.," Richardson said Sunday in a telephone interview with the newspaper.

Richardson, who was invited to Cuba by the Raul Castro government to discuss the Gross case, said he has even been denied permission to see Gross, who has been detained in Cuba since 2009. Richardson said he plans to stay in the communist country until he is allowed access to the 62-year-old Maryland man.

Gross was arrested for providing satellite phone and other equipment to Cuba's Jewish community.

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