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Cuban official: Cuba is ready to negotiate status of Alan Gross

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Authorities in Cuba are ready to negotiate the status of jailed American Alan Gross, a senior Cuban official said.

"We have made clear to the U.S. government that we are ready to have a negotiation in order to try and find a solution, a humanitarian solution to Mr. Gross’ case on a reciprocal basis," Josefina Vidal, the top official in the Cuban Foreign Ministry handling North America, said in an interview on CNN on May 10.

Vidal would not offer specifics, but prompted by interviewer Wolf Blitzer, she said the "Cuban Five" — five agents jailed or on probation in the United States for espionage charges — were a concern.

"Cuba has legitimate concerns, humanitarian concerns related to the situation of the Cuban Five," she said.

Vidal said the Cuban system does not allow for a humanitarian release for Gross, who was sentenced last year to 15 years on espionage charges related to his U.S. State Department-backed project to hook Cuba’s Jews into the Internet.

"It is not conceived in the Cuban system that persons in this situation can be allowed to travel abroad," she said.

Gross, who is Jewish, has asked to be allowed to visit his 90-year-old mother, who is dying of cancer.

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