POLITICS

Leahy leads bipartisan U.S. Senate delegation to Cuba ahead of embassies

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, and Cuba's First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, sit for a meeting at the Palace of The Revolution in Havana, Cuba, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, Pool)

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, and Cuba's First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, sit for a meeting at the Palace of The Revolution in Havana, Cuba, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, Pool)

A bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators was in Cuba on Friday to meet with top government officials and others to discuss rapprochement between the two countries.

The United States and Cuba announced on Dec. 17 they would move to restore diplomatic ties that were severed more than 50 years ago, but talks on reopening embassies have yet to yield an agreement six months later.

Asked when that might happen, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said, "the sooner the better."

"I'm glad to see things are changing between our countries, and the more they change, the faster they change, the better for both countries," he said in brief remarks as the lawmakers left their Havana hotel and boarded a bus.

Leahy, who has traveled to Cuba multiple times, was leading a group that also included fellow Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Dean Heller of Nevada.

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The senators met with Cuba's first vice president and heir-apparent to Raúl Castro, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

A statement from the U.S. State Department said the delegation also would meet with religious leaders, ambassadors and others in Havana and the eastern city of Santiago.

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