After Gross Release, U.S. and Cuba to Hold Talks on Restoring Full Diplomatic Relations

Jewish-American aid worker Alan Gross was released in a humanitarian prisoner exchange; Obama, Castro to hold press conferences later on Wednesday.

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Supporters of Alan Gross, Washington D.C., Nov. 11, 2014Credit: AP

Cuba has released Jewish-American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

U.S. officials said later on Wednesday that Washington intends to start talks with Cuba to normalize full diplomatic relations, and open embassy in Havana.

Cuba arrested Gross, now 65, on December 3, 2009, and later convicted the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) subcontractor to 15 years in prison for importing banned technology and trying to establish clandestine internet service for Cuban Jews.

ABC News earlier said Gross was released in a humanitarian prisoner exchange.

U.S. President Barack Obama was set to make a statement on Cuba at noon local time, the White House said.

Meanwhile, Cuban President Raul Castro will speak to his nation at noon (1700 GMT) on Wednesday about relations with the United States, Cuban state television reported, as news surfaced of Gross' release.