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U.S., Cuba Church Leaders Plan Talks

February 11, 2000

HAVANA (AP) _ A delegation of American religious leaders wrapped up a three-day visit to Cuba this week, calling for increased exchanges between the two countries’ religious communities.

``We believe the time has arrived for an expansion of contacts between religious groups in the United States and Cuba,″ said Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York, president and founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Schneier said that before returning to New York late Wednesday, the group agreed to put together a postgraduate study program for Cuban clergy in the United States.

While in Havana, delegation members met with Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly and Fidel Castro’s key man for U.S.-Cuba relations, and Cardiad del Rosario Bello Diego, Director of Cuba’s Office of Religious Affairs.

They also spoke with top religious leaders, including those from the Roman Catholic church, the Cuban Council of Churches and Cuba’s Jewish community.

Other members of the visiting delegation included Fordham University’s president, the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead.

Founded in 1965, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation is an inter-religious coalition of business and religious leaders working to advance religious freedom and tolerance.

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