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      Official: Cuba Willing to Negotiate Release of Alan Gross

      Cuban authorities may be ready to negotiate the status of jailed American Alan Gross, a senior Cuban official said.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 5/16/2012, 11:32 AM

      Raul Castro
      Raul Castro
      Reuters

      Cuban authorities may be ready to negotiate the status of jailed American Alan Gross, a senior Cuban official said.

      “We have conveyed to the U.S. side that we are ready to sit down to talk and have a negotiation on this matter,” Josefina Vidal of the Cuban Foreign Ministry told CNN.

      Possible negotiations are likely to revolve around the release of the “Cuban 5,” five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in the United States. "Cuba has legitimate concerns, humanitarian concerns related to the situation of the Cuban Five," noted Vital.

      To date, Cuban President Raul Castro has denied Gross’ requests to be released temporarily in order to see his mother and daughter, both of whom have been diagnosed with cancer.

      Gross’ family was hoping that Cuba would make a reciprocal act of good will in light of the decision made by a Miami judge in March to temporarily release convicted Cuban spy, Rene Gonzalez, allowing him the opportunity to visit his ailing brother who suffers from lung cancer.  

      No such gesture had been made.

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

      The State Department said Vidal's statements only reinforce the U.S. belief that Gross is being held hostage and that there is no justification for his imprisonment.

      In an interview with a local CBS station in Baltimore, Gross' wife Judy, said, "We know now that he did break Cuban law. He did not know that until he got to Cuba and was arrested.

      Gross has served more than two years of a 15-year sentence for his efforts to help the Cuban Jewish community improve its access to the Internet.