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Gross released after a year of talks, Vatican involved: U.S. senator
December 17, 2014 / 3:53 PM / 3 years ago

Gross released after a year of talks, Vatican involved: U.S. senator

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Negotiations for the release of ailing U.S. aid worker Alan Gross lasted for about a year, with significant involvement by the Vatican, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin told Reuters on Wednesday.

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) talks with reporters near the U.S. Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol during immigration debates in Washington, June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Durbin said the White House called him on Tuesday night with the news of Gross’ pending release. “I was overjoyed by this news,” Durbin told Reuters by telephone from Joint Base Andrews, a military base outside of Washington, where Gross was expected to land within hours.

But there were already quick objections to the news from some U.S. lawmakers. Robert Menendez, the current head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, denounced President Barack Obama’s actions on Cuba, saying they “vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

Menendez, in a statement, said trading Gross for “convicted criminals” from Cuba “sets an extremely dangerous precedent.”

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Heavey

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