Carter heads to Cuba to dicuss held US prisoner, economy

Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) speaks with former US President Jimmy Carter at the Jose Marti Airport in Havana, Cuba, 17 May 2002 (AFP Photo / Adalberto Roque)
Former US President Jimmy Carter is to meet with Cuban leaders at the invitation of the Cuban government. Officially, the topic at hand is new economic policies. However, discussion on a held US contractor is inevitable.

While visiting the communist island nation, it is anticipated Carter will intercede on behalf of an US State Department contractor recently sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison for brining contraband into the country.

The prisoner, Alan Gross, was sentenced for providing illegal Internet access to dissident groups. He claimed he was merely assisting the nation’s small Jewish community get online.

Carter is set to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, Jewish community leaders and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who previously assisted in the release of a number of Cuba’s political prisoners.

The former president has a history of traveling to nations with unfriendly relations with the US in order to secure the release of American prisoners, having done so recently in August 2010 in North Korea.