When U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake and Tom Udall fly back from Cuba to the United States on Wednesday, they will carry the regret of not being able to take with them Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor serving a 15-year prison sentence on the island.
"Alan wants to come home," Flake, an Arizona Republican, said at a news conference after a two-hour meeting with the imprisoned American on Tuesday.
The two senators, who are critics of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, said they had come to Cuba to again push for Gross' release. They said his imprisonment is an impediment to improved U.S.-Cuba relations.
"Other people have tried to come and meet with him and not been able to," said Udall, a New Mexico Democrat. "That's an optimistic thing."