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Six US Lawmakers Visit Cuba

  • VOA News

U.S. delegation leader Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) talks with reporters as he leaves the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 17, 2015.

U.S. delegation leader Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) talks with reporters as he leaves the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 17, 2015.

A U.S. congressional delegation is in Cuba in the first such visit since President Barack Obama announced last month that Washington would normalize relations with the island nation.

The six-member group of Democrats, led by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, arrived Saturday in Havana.

Leahy said the group wanted to explore opportunities for greater cooperation and encourage Cuban officials to address issues of real concern to the American people and their representatives in Congress.

"We've all been here before," Leahy said. "We're all very interested in what happens next, and so I hope we're going to find out."

Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island are on the trip, as are Representatives Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont. They return to Washington on Monday.

Meanwhile, the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has confirmed to VOA that he plans to lead a trade mission to Cuba in the coming term.

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said the visit would be one of several such trips promoting New York. Details of the trip will be announced later, she said.

The Obama administration Friday began to implement rule changes aimed at loosening travel and trade restrictions. However, an end to the decades-old U.S. embargo against Cuba would require an act of Congress.

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