From the Associated Press:
Former President Jimmy Carter is expected to visit Cuba next week to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro to discuss economic policies and ways to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
The former president and his wife Rosalynn will arrive in Havana on Monday and stay until Wednesday on a trip under the auspices of his Atlanta-based Carter Center organization, spokeswoman Deanna Congileo said. It is not an official U.S. mission.
Carter’s visit comes days after a Cuban court sentenced U.S. contractor Alan Gross to 15 years in prison for crimes against the state for bringing satellite equipment into the country illegally.
Gross, 61, was arrested in December 2009 while working for Bethesda, Maryland-based Development Alternatives, Inc. on a USAID-backed democracy-building project.
The U.S. government and Gross’s family say he was working to improve Internet access for the island’s Jewish community and should be released immediately. Cuba rejects these claims, saying Gross was a “mercenary” working on a program paid for by Washington that aimed to bring down Cuba’s revolutionary system.
Meanwhile, we have confirmation of Carter’s other travel plans, again from the AP:
Former President Jimmy Carter is planning to travel to North Korea soon, possibly early next month, U.S. government officials said Thursday.
Spokesman Mark Toner said the State Department had been “made aware of the trip” but stressedCarter would be traveling in a private capacity.
“He’s not traveling with an official U.S. delegation, and he does not carry an official message,” Toner said.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider