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Dissident disappointment

The woman who accepted a democracy award on behalf of her Cuban dissident brother and four others says she was sorry not to get an audience with President Barack Obama.

"Bertha Antunez...said today she was naturally disappointed at not having the opportunity to tell their stories directly to President Obama of the harsh treatment they have received from the regime for speaking out for basic human rights."

But a statement from the National Endowment for Democracy said Antunez and the dissidents "are encouraged by the President's statement commending the award recipients for 'standing up for the right of the Cuban people to freely determine their country's future and his call for all political prisoners to be unconditionally released and allowed to fully participate in a democratic future in Cuba."

An administration official says Obama had a town hall meeting on health care Wednesday night and nothing should be read into the fact he wasn't able to meet with Antunez.

President Bush had met with the honorees since 2005, which prompted NED to ask Obama for the meeting, a spokeswoman said.

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