Black Lawmakers Meet With Fidel Castro

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Fidel Castro met Tuesday with three members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the former Cuban president’s first meeting with American officials since falling ill in July 2006.

Greg Adams, a spokesman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, said Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, and two other lawmakers met with the ailing, 82-year-old Castro. He did not have further details, nor could he provide the names of the other Americans who attended the meeting.

The meeting appears to underscore the Cuban government’s desire for improved relations with the United States under new President Barack Obama.

Adams said he expected the Cuban government to release more information during the nightly newscast on state television.

The bearded former president who has clashed with every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. He formally ceded power to his brother Raul, five years his junior, last February.

Lee led a delegation of six Democratic representatives who left Havana Tuesday after a five-day trip designed to encourage dialogue between the United States and Cuba.

The group was traveling and not immediately available to provide details. Reached in Washington, J. Jioni Palmer, a spokesman for the Congressional Black Caucus, said he had not heard of any meeting with the elder Castro.

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