VATICAN CITY - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday asked the Vatican to help win the release of an American contractor who has been in jail in Cuba since 2009.
Kerry, the first Catholic US secretary of state in more than 30 years, stopped at the Vatican on his way to Kuwait to hold talks with Pope Francis' top aide, Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
The talks mostly centred on the Middle East and efforts to bring an end to the Syrian civil war ahead of a peace conference in Geneva later this month.
"We talked also about Cuba and the need for respect for freedom of religion and freedom of, and respect for, human rights," Kerry told reporters after the meeting.
"I raised the issue of Alan Gross and his captivity, and we hope very much that there might be able to be assistance with respect to that issue," he said.
Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison for installing Internet networks for Cuban Jews in a U.S. programme Cuba considers subversive.