US won't negotiate with Cuba over imprisoned subcontractor Gross
The US State Department staunchly refused Friday to engage in any negotiations with Cuba over the case of a US social worker and development professional, Alan Gross, who is being held in prison in Cuba, DPA reported.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was responding to the suggestion on Thursday by a top Cuban foreign ministry official that release of the Cuban Five, who are serving jail sentences for espionage in the US, should be part of the negotiations.
"We are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade," Nuland said in her daily press briefing.
"There is no equivalence between these situations. On the one hand you have convicted spies in the United States and on the other hand you have an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place," she stressed.
Gross, a US citizen, was arrested three years ago and has been sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban jail. Nuland called his situation "deplorable."
On Thursday, Josefina Vidal, director for North America at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, told the US television network CNN that the communist country wanted negotiations with Washington on the issue.
"We have made clear to the US government that we are ready to have a negotiation in order to try to find a humanitarian solution to Mr Gross's case on reciprocal terms," Vidal said.
She accused the US government of having a "direct responsibility" in the subcontractor's case.
"We're not advancing a specific formula, it has to be discussed among us. But definitely Cuba has a legitimate humanitarian concern related to the situation of the Cuban Five," Vidal said.