Top U.S. diplomats used a high-level meeting with their Cuban counterparts Friday to call for the release of an American held in a maximum security prison without charge for nearly three months.
Cuba alleges Alan P. Gross is a spy whose arrest proves Washington is still out to topple the island's communist government. Gross' family maintains he is a veteran development worker who came to Cuba to distribute communications equipment to Jewish groups.
Both the U.S. and Cuba also offered restrained praise for the discussions, which lasted about five hours and focused on migration issues. The Cubans said the talks at an undisclosed location in Havana were positive and respectful, while the U.S. called them part of a larger, constructive process.
The U.S. also said in a statement that its delegation, led by Craig Kelly, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and the highest-ranking American official to visit in years, "raised the case of the U.S. citizen detained in Cuba and called for his immediate release."
In its own assessment, Cuba made no mention of Gross' arrest or of American officials' broaching the issue, saying only that the meeting "took place in an atmosphere of respect."